Miss. Senate Committee Chair Drops 'Heartbeat' Bill

April 30, 2012 — Mississippi Senate Judiciary B Committee Chair Hob Bryan (D) on Thursday dropped a bill (SB 2771) that would ban abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detectable, saying the measure "is clearly not constitutional," the AP/Hattiesburg American reports. The bill is not expected to come up again before the legislative session ends early next month (Wagster Pettus, AP/Hattiesburg American, 4/26).

Language from an earlier version of the bill (HB 1196) -- which passed the House but was rejected by a Senate committee earlier this month -- was added as an amendment to SB 2771, a measure that would increase to 30 years the maximum prison sentence for anyone older than age 21 convicted of murdering someone younger than age 18.

Under the amendment, physicians would have to attempt to detect a fetal heartbeat -- in some cases, by transvaginal ultrasound -- before an abortion. A physician convicted of providing abortion care when a fetal heartbeat is present would be subject to the 30-year maximum prison sentence in the bill (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/12).

Bryan said he has "always voted for and supported every restriction on abortion that was constitutional," but the bill is "clearly not constitutional, and it would serve us no purpose to pass it." If the bill did become law, "[s]omeone would go to court and get an injunction, and it would never take effect," Bryan said (AP/Hattiesburg American, 4/26).