JACKSON, MS, April 24, 2014 ( — Mississippi has passed one of the nation's most restrictive abortion laws after Governor Phil Bryant signed a bill banning most abortions at 18 weeks' gestation, or 20 weeks after a woman's last menstrual period.

House Bill 1400, which will take effect on July 1, allows an abortion if a woman would likely die or face permanent injury as a result of the pregnancy. It also has an exception for when an unborn baby has severe abnormalities, but no rape or incest exceptions.

Bryant, who has said he wants to ban all abortions in his state, signed the bill into law on Wednesday despite heavy criticism from Democrats and abortion providers. One of those critics, Center for Reproductive Rights CEO Nancy Northup, said that “it's time for these politicians to stop passing laws that attack constitutionally protected women's health care and finally focus on policies that would support the health, lives and rights of Mississippi women and families.”


The owner of the state's only abortion clinic, Diane Derzis, said the law would not affect her business, noting that her clinic only does abortions up to 16 weeks' gestation. Health Department data shows that 2,176 abortions were done in Mississippi in 2012, two of which were done at 21 weeks' gestation or later, and 382 of which did not state the gestational age of the unborn child.

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Americans United for Life president Dr. Charmaine Yoest praised Bryant and other pro-life politicians in Mississippi “for their leadership,” noting that “this new law helps correct the shocking reality that as a result of Roe v. Wade, the United States is one of only four nations along with China, North Korea, and Canada that allows abortion through all nine months of pregnancy, for any reason whatsoever and sometimes with tax payer subsidies.”

Pro-abortion blog Think Progress called the law “blatantly unconstitutional,” saying that Roe v. Wade allows abortions for up to 24 weeks' gestation. Think Progress and other opponents of the law note that a similar law in Arizona was overturned by the Ninth Circuit Court, but supporters say that since Mississippi is in a more conservative Circuit Court, any challenge might see a different result.