A bill designed to eventually outlaw and criminalize abortion in Mississippi got final approval from the state Legislature on Thursday and Gov. Haley Barbour is expected to sign it into law.
The measure would ban nearly all abortions in the state if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide. If Roe v. Wade is overturned and the state bill becomes law, anyone performing an illegal abortion in Mississippi would face one to 10 years in prison.
The bill also tightens consent laws for minors and requires abortion providers to perform a sonogram and give the pregnant woman an opportunity to listen to a fetal heartbeat. It is just one of several abortion laws being considered across the country.
South Carolina lawmakers this week discussed a measure that would force a woman to view ultrasound images of the fetus before undergoing an abortion. In Oklahoma, a House committee on Tuesday approved several abortion measures, including one that would define abortion, in part, as a procedure in which a drug is injected into a fetus’ heart to cause death.
And in Kentucky, a bill being considered would require that a woman considering an abortion be informed that at 20 weeks an “unborn child has the physical structures necessary to experience pain.” The normal gestation period is 40 weeks.
If the legally shallow and incoherent Roe v. Wade is ever overturned, laws like this will be helpful in saving many lives. Even many pro-choicers believe Roe v. Wade is constitutionally invalid and a strong example of legislating from the bench. While I’d obviously love to see a ban on abortions except to save the life of the mother, it seems to me that the constitutionally correct decision on abortion is to leave it as a states rights issue. Since the Constitution is silent on this issue, the 10th Amendment devolves the power to decide laws restricting or allowing abortion to the states, with the obvious exception of interstate commerce’s impact on abortion. So, the national government could pass a law concerning crossing state lines to procure an abortion, but could not pass a law concerning a person’s access to abortion within their state of residence.
I’m glad to see that those defending the rights of the unborn are planning for the repeal of Roe v. Wade; I just their faith in its ultimate repeal will be justified.