"Phil Bryant" by Tammy Anthony Baker / CC BY 2.0

GOP governor signs law that bans abortion before some women even know they’re pregnant

Mar 22, 2019

By Reis Thebault

Mississippi’s governor has signed into law one of the strictest abortion bans in the country, making it even more difficult for women to get abortions in a state where only one clinic still operates.

The bill, set to take effect in July, bans abortions after a doctor can detect a fetal heartbeat during an ultrasound, unless the mother’s health is at extreme risk. Heartbeats can be heard just six weeks after conception — before some women even know they are pregnant.

Mississippi’s new restrictions are part of a reinvigorated nationwide effort to limit access to abortion, propelled by Republican-dominated state legislatures and an increasingly conservative Supreme Court. This year alone, at least 11 states have introduced “heartbeat bills,” including Texas, Florida, Georgia, Ohio and Missouri — some of the country’s most populous states.

Kentucky’s governor signed a similar measure last week, which a federal judge quickly blocked, questioning its constitutionality. In January, an Iowa state court did the same to a 2018 law.

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