Girl Talk: Mississippi passes the most restrictive abortion act in the nation

Mississippi has historically been one of America’s most conservative states. In fact, according to Gallup, an American research company, Mississippi was ranked the third most conservative state within the United States in 2016. As a result of the political majority within the state, most laws support republican ideologies.

On March 8, 2018, Mississippi lawmakers passed a “Gestational Age Act” that restricts abortions from occurring 15 weeks after the woman’s last menstrual cycle. A 2016 Supreme Court case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, determined that states may not ban abortions before they are deemed viable outside of the womb. Fetuses are generally deemed viable between 24 and 26 weeks.

Additionally, Mississippi’s new law offers absolutely no exceptions for abortions under the condition of rape or incest. However, it does offer exceptions for ‘medical emergencies’ or ‘severe fetal abnormality’. Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed the bill into action and took to Twitter to state, “As I have repeatedly said, I want Mississippi to be the safest place in America for an unborn child. House Bill 1510 will help us achieve that goal.”

Despite Governor Bryant’s ambitions, it has been statistically proven that restricting access to abortions and enforcing strict abortion laws doesn’t necessarily ensure ‘the safest place in America for the unborn child’. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, 42 million women with unintended pregnancies choose abortion annually. 20 million of those abortions are deemed unsafe.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine and many national institutions of health emphasize the two primary methods that have successfully reduced unsafe abortions are less restrictive abortion laws and greater contraceptive usage. Enforcing such harsh and conservative laws such as Mississippi’s “Gestational Age Act” is not going to suddenly prevent women from seeking abortions.

In the state of Mississippi, there is only one abortion center serving their population of almost three million people. Abortions are already hard to receive, so a law the further restricts access to safe abortions will not prevent harming of the unborn child. This restrictive piece of legislation will not satisfy Governor Bryant’s goal of making “Mississippi the safest place in America for an unborn child”.

If Governor Bryant wants to improve maternal health and safe abortions within the state of Mississippi, the desired improvements need to occur within the culture that surrounds abortions rather than the legal system. Sex education should be taught in school curriculums with more medically accurate information, more abortion clinics should be opened within the state, and more alterations need to be made to already restrictive laws regarding exceptions for abortions. Only after all women who seek abortions are receiving safe abortions will there even be the slightest possibility for Mississippi to be the safest place for the unborn child.