Mississippi lawmakers passed the nation’s most restrictive anti-abortion ban on Thursday, concurrent with International Women’s Day.
The Mississippi House of Representatives on Thursday voted 75 to 34 in favor of the measure to ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, a bill Gov. Phil Bryant (R) is expected to sign.
The bill, if signed, would change the state’s current law prohibiting abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy to 15 weeks.
Lawmakers argued that “women start to gain weight and feel movement during the third month of pregnancy,” and that 15 weeks gives women plenty of time to “decide whether you’re going to carry that child or not.”
But as ThinkProgress notes, “many people don’t even know they’re pregnant at 15 weeks, and the state already makes obtaining an abortion a long process, so a 15-week ban would mean that many women would have little to no time to make a decision before being forced past the legal deadline.”
The Hill adds:
The bill includes exceptions if the woman’s life or a “major bodily function” is threatened or if the fetus has a health problem that would mean it likely wouldn’t survive outside the womb. It doesn’t include exemptions in cases of rape or incest, according to the AP.
The Senate passed the bill in a 35 to 14 vote after a heated floor debate, and it was sent back to the House. Senators had stripped the House’s language that would punish physicians who performed abortions after 15 weeks, according to the Clarion Ledger.
“I have repeatedly said, I want Mississippi to be the safest place in America for an unborn child,” Bryant tweeted Tuesday.
Mississippi’s only abortion clinic, Jackson Women’s Health Organization, has already threatened to sue the state.