Miss. Senate Committees Approve Restrictions on Abortion Providers, Reject Two Antiabortion Bills

April 4, 2012 — The Mississippi Senate Public Health Committee on Tuesday approved a bill (HB 1390) that would place new restrictions on abortion providers, while the Senate Judiciary B Committee refrained from voting on two other abortion bills, the AP/Hattiesburg American reports. Tuesday was the deadline for House and Senate committees to vote on legislation that had passed in the opposite chamber.

HB 1390 would require abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a local hospital, as well as have board certification in obstetrics and gynecology. Gov. Phil Bryant (R) said he would sign the measure if it is approved by the Senate.

Nsombi Lambright, director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi, said the bill is "unnecessary" because Mississippi's only remaining abortion clinic safely cares for patients. Further, patients with complications related to abortion services can be treated at the University of Mississippi Medical Center or surrounding hospitals. If the bill becomes law, it likely would be challenged in court, which would add legal costs for the state, she added.

Senate Judiciary B Committee Chair Hob Bryan (D) cited a probable court challenge as the reason he chose to pocket-veto the two other antiabortion measures. One of the bills (HB 1196) would have banned abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detectable and another (HB 790) would have required a physician to be present when medication abortion is administered (Wagster Pettus, AP/Hattiesburg American, 4/3).

In an attempt to revive the fetal heartbeat measure, House Judiciary B Committee Chair Andy Gipson (R) on Tuesday added it to an unrelated bill (SB 2771). However, House Minority Leader Bobby Moak (D) said he intends to challenge the amendment on the grounds that it is has nothing to do with the intent of the original legislation (Bakeman/Mickens, Jackson Clarion Ledger, 4/4).