Mississippi Lawmakers Attack Reproductive Rights with Unconstitutional 15-Week Ban

Bill heading to governor’s desk will be the earliest abortion ban in effect in the United States, and targets state’s last remaining clinic

(PRESS RELEASE) Today Mississippi lawmakers sent a bill prohibiting abortion at or beyond 15 weeks to Governor Bryant, who is expected to sign it into law. HB 1510 is scheduled to go into effect immediately, and would be the nation’s earliest gestational ban in effect. This unconstitutional bill, which targets the last remaining abortion clinic in the state, is the latest in the state’s string of cruel and unnecessary assaults on reproductive rights.  

HB 1510 violates longstanding Supreme Court precedent, established in Roe v. Wade and reaffirmed in 2016 in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, and prohibits doctors from providing care at the risk of civil penalties. Additionally, the bill fails to provide exceptions for rape or incest.

Said Lourdes Rivera, Senior Vice President, US Programs at the Center for Reproductive Rights:

Mississippi politicians’ flagrant assault on reproductive rights will not go unchallenged.

"The true motive of these politicians is to shut down the state's sole remaining abortion clinic and deny Mississippi women the ability to make decisions about their health, families and lives and to access quality, compassionate abortion services that they need.

“This bill is dangerous and unconstitutional. The Center is prepared to answer any attempt to undermine 40 years of Supreme Court precedent with the full force of the law."

Bans similar to HB 1510 have been repeatedly challenged in court and rejected on constitutional grounds. Arizona, North Dakota and Arkansas introduced nearly identical bills seeking to ban pre-viability abortions. In 2014, the nation’s highest court refused to review Arizona’s ban on abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy after it had been declared unconstitutional. In 2016, the Supreme Court refused to review both North Dakota’s 6-week ban on abortion and Arkansas’ 12-week ban, both of which had been struck down by lower courts. To date, federal courts have blocked every previously considered ban on pre-viability abortion.  

If HB 1510 goes into effect, Mississippi will become the state with the country’s earliest gestational abortion ban in the country. The Center for Reproductive Rights is currently challenging the state’s unconstitutional requirement prohibiting most physicians from providing abortion care at an abortion facility by allowing only board-certified or board-eligible obstetrician-gynecologists to provide such care. Mississippi is the only state in the country that has such a requirement.

Harmful restrictions like the 15-week ban underscore the need for the federal Women’s Health Protection Act, a Congressional bill designed to end the wave of anti-abortion laws preventing women from accessing their constitutional right to an abortion. The Women’s Health Protection Act would ensure abortion care is not singled out for medically unwarranted restrictions that ultimately harm women by preventing them from accessing safe and legal reproductive health services.