Mississippi lawmakers have passed what is likely to be the nation's most restrictive abortion law. The House on Thursday approved by a vote of 75-34 a measure that would make most abortions illegal after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Republican Gov. Phil Bryant has said he'll sign the bill. The Mississippi Senate passed the measure on Tuesday.
The bill could spark a court challenge focusing on whether states can ban abortions before fetuses can survive outside the womb. The owner of Mississippi's only abortion clinic has pledged to sue.
There are two exceptions to the bill: if the fetus has a health problem that would prevent it from surviving outside the womb at full term, or if the pregnant woman's life or a "major bodily function" is threatened by the pregnancy. Pregnancies as a result of rape and incest would not be exempt. Mississippi now prohibits abortion after 20 weeks. Republican Gov. Phil Bryant says he hasn't changed his mind: He will sign the bill into law. Bryant reiterated his intentions in a statement Thursday, saying he wants "Mississippi to be the safest place in America for an unborn child."
Mississippi's attorney general says it could be tough to defend a bill lawmakers have passed banning most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Jim Hood says he expects "an immediate and expensive legal challenge" to the bill, which has now passed both Republican-controlled chambers of the legislature. The Democratic attorney general notes that measures in other states banning abortions after 20 weeks have been struck down. Mississippi also has such a ban, but it has not been challenged yet.
Hood's comments Thursday came shortly after the House approved the law by a vote of 75-34. The owner of Mississippi's only abortion clinic has vowed to sue.
By JEFF AMY and SARAH MEARHOFF