JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed into law
March 19 the most restrictive state abortion bill in the nation because
it bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
The owner of the
state’s only abortion clinic, Jackson Women’s Health Organization, filed
suit immediately after Bryant signed the bill, claiming it is
At a morning hearing March 20, a federal judge
blocked the law with a temporary restraining order, in effect for 10
days. The state and the clinic must now provide “expedited briefings” to
the court while it considers issuing a preliminary injunction.
Catholic bishops of Mississippi wish to reaffirm the sacredness of
human life from conception until natural death,” stated Bishop Joseph R.
Kopacz of Jackson and Bishop Louis F. Kihneman III of Biloxi. “With
Pope St. John Paul II, we recognize abortion as ‘a most serious wound
inflicted on society and its culture by the very people who ought to be
society’s promoters and defenders.’”
The bishops issued their
joint statement after the Mississippi House passed the measure 75-34 in
February. The state Senate passed H.B. 1510 March 6 in a 35-14 vote.
commending the state’s lawmakers, Bishops Kopacz and Kihneman also
criticized lawmakers in Congress who let the Pain-Capable Unborn Child
Protection Act fail in the House of Representatives.
In a podcast
March 16, Bryant had anticipated the suit against the new law but said
he expects to win in court, no matter how high the case goes in the
“We will go to the (U.S. Court of Appeals for the) 5th
Circuit — which is traditionally more conservative on appeal — than some
of the others around the nation. And if we go all the way to the
Supreme Court, we are willing to do that,” he said.
Court has ruled in the past against abortion laws involving babies who
could not survive outside the womb, which would include the Mississippi
“We are protecting the unborn children in this state, many of
whom are minorities, many of whom are female, obviously who are, at 15
weeks, moving in their mother’s womb. They are kicking, they have
developed taste buds, their eyelids are moving, their hands and feet
have been formed,” Bryant said.
“This is a human being at 15 weeks
and we are going about protecting women and minorities from being torn
apart by one of these later term abortions,” he added.
doesn’t exempt pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. There are only
two exceptions to the ban: if an unborn child has health problems that
would make him or her “incompatible with life” outside of the womb at
full term, or if a pregnant woman’s life or a “major bodily function” is
threatened by the pregnancy.
The Susan B. Anthony List, a
national pro-life organization, praised Bryant and state lawmakers “for
their commitment to making Mississippi ‘the safest place in America’ for
unborn children and their mothers.”
The organization’s president,
Marjorie Dannenfelser, described Mississippi as being “at the vanguard
of the growing momentum to bring our laws back into line with basic
human decency. It is one of 20 states that have passed popular,
compassionate legislation to stop cruel late-term abortions after five
The afternoon the bill was signed, a member of the 40
Days for Life prayer team stood at the entrance to Jackson Women’s
Health Organization. Ron Leaderhook, a member of Dayspring Community
Church in Clinton, said he tries to show the love of God to everyone he
meets there, whether it be staff or clients. He said he was happy to
hear the ban was signed and would continue to pray for the clinic to