A trigger law in Mississippi has been certified by the state Attorney General, starting the countdown until nearly all abortions are banned in the state. Experts are questioning the implementation of the law’s two exceptions.
Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch has certified a 2007 law banning nearly all abortions, with the only exceptions being life-endangering pregnancies or those caused by rape. According to the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office, the law goes into effect on July 7th. Vara Lyons is an attorney with the ACLU of Mississippi, and says the rape condition can be hard for women to meet because it requires a police report.
“Typically, a victim of sexual assault may feel shame, fear, she may be scared to go to the police. With some of my trafficking victims [from a previous job], they were still under the threat of physical abuse by their traffickers. And sometimes there’s not a rape kit done for every sexual assault. And sometimes the police are not contacted about every sexual assault.”
Victims of incest will not be protected in these exemptions because of the legal differences between rape and incest.
Physicians are also raising concerns about their ability to perform abortions to save the lives of pregnant people. Dr. Maureen Phipps is CEO of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. She says laws like the one in Mississippi could prevent doctors from accurately diagnosing a deadly pregnancy.
“It will leave physicians looking over our shoulders wondering if a patient is in enough of a crisis to permit an exception to a law,” says Dr. Phipps. “It leaves them fearing that evidence-based care they are providing is leaving them susceptible to discipline, punishment, lawsuits, loss of license and criminal penalty.”
A lawsuit has been filed on behalf of the state’s only abortion clinic to challenge the ban based on a 1998 Mississippi Supreme Court opinion.