ABORTION IN THE MAGNOLIA STATE
Updated: Jul 18
"The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives." - Ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court in DOBBS, STATE HEALTH OFFICER OF THE MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, ET AL. v. JACKSON WOMEN’S HEALTH ORGANIZATION ET AL. (JUNE 24, 2022).
Whether one agrees or disagrees, that is the law now. The ruling will no doubt be a controversial one from the legal views of some and the moral views of others; however, no matter one's viewpoint on the issue of abortion, this case may be the only one in my recent memory that actually recognizes some form of state sovereignty - a concept that has been eroded significantly over the last century and a half.
What does this mean for Mississippi? Well, oddly, the case being considered merely challenged Mississippi's "Gestational Age Act" which was enacted for the purpose of limiting most abortions to pregnancies less than 15 weeks along - excepting medical emergencies and severe fetal abnormality. However, with the ruling of the Supreme Court today, it does not appear that abortions in Mississippi will be allowed up to 15 weeks.
In fact, in 2007, in anticipation of the eventual overturning of Roe v Wade, Mississippi enacted a "trigger statute," MCA § 41-41-4 which reads:
"[From and after ten days following the date of publication by the Attorney General of Mississippi that the Attorney General has determined that the United States Supreme Court has overruled the decision of Roe v. Wade, and that it is reasonably probable that this section would be upheld by the Court as constitutional, this section will read as follows:]
(1) As used in this section, the term "abortion" means the use or prescription of any instrument, medicine, drug or any other substance or device to terminate the pregnancy of a woman known to be pregnant with an intention other than to increase the probability of a live birth, to preserve the life or health of the child after live birth or to remove a dead fetus.
(2) No abortion shall be performed or induced in the State of Mississippi, except in the case where necessary for the preservation of the mother's life or where the pregnancy was caused by rape.
(3) For the purposes of this section, rape shall be an exception to the prohibition for an abortion only if a formal charge of rape has been filed with an appropriate law enforcement official.
(4) Any person, except the pregnant woman, who purposefully, knowingly or recklessly performs or attempts to perform or induce an abortion in the State of Mississippi, except in the case where necessary for the preservation of the mother's life or where the pregnancy was caused by rape, upon conviction, shall be punished by imprisonment in the custody of the Department of Corrections for not less than one (1) year nor more than ten (10) years."
So what will be the law in Mississippi on abortion? The best I can tell at this point is as follows:
1. No Abortion unless someone has been charged with rape in the pregnancy or said pregnancy endangers the mother's life.
2. Performing an abortion in the State will be classified as a felony.
3. Medical professionals may be civilly liable to the husband of a woman who obtains an abortion in Mississippi if he has not consented and/or liable to the parents of a pregnant female under 18 years old.
4. Public funding for abortions will be prohibited unless someone has been charged with rape in the pregnancy or said pregnancy endangers the mother's life.
5. Mississippi insureds will not be granted coverage for abortion procedures unless someone has been charged with rape in the pregnancy or said pregnancy endangers the mother's life.
So, that is what appears to be the imminent state of the law in the Magnolia State based on what's on the books - no matter one's political or moral viewpoint.