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JACKSON, March 21, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Mississippi joined a growing list of states that ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected on Thursday, as Republican Gov. Phil Bryant signed the measure into law.

Lawmakers in the state Senate approved the final language of the bill Tuesday, which makes exceptions only to save a woman’s life or prevent harm to a “major bodily function.” Violators could have their medical licenses suspended or revoked. Bryant, who has made multiple statements in support of the bill, signed it into law today, the Associated Press reports. It will take effect starting July 1.

“I am very pro-life, always have been,” the governor declared. “I think obviously we'll have some legal challenges on it. We have legal challenges with every pro-life bill that we have ever passed. We anticipate that. We hope that it will get to the Supreme Court and they will uphold it.”

The pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) released a statement calling the “heartbeat bill” a “manipulative misnomer” (without explaining how), claiming such laws “actually rob women of their choice to have an abortion before they even know they’re pregnant,” and threatening to sue the state.

“We will all answer to the good Lord one day,” Bryant responded. “I will say in this instance, ‘I fought for the lives of innocent babies, even under the threat of legal action.”

“The pro-life community has waited years for the courts to recognize the obvious … that a baby with a beating heart is deserving of its life being legally protected,” Republican state Sen. Angela Hill, one of the bill’s lead sponsors, previously told LifeSiteNews. “I remember how thrilled I was to first hear the heartbeats of my own children. I knew that they were unique individuals growing inside my body. I was just their shelter and their food for (nine) months.”

The Mississippi Center for Public Policy responded to the news by “commend[ing] Governor Phil Bryant for capping off a lifetime of pro-life public service.”

“The Heartbeat bill is popular because everyone knows a heartbeat is a sign of life,” said Dr. Jameson Taylor, the group’s vice president for policy. “Intellectual and scientific honesty demands a reconsideration of Roe, a 50-year-old decision based on old science. 3-D and 4-D ultrasounds are showing women that their unborn child is alive. At six weeks, the child has a beating heart. Soon after, it can sense light, move, hear and taste.”

Numerous states have introduced or enacted heartbeat bills over the past several months. They ban abortion much earlier than the “viability” standard set by Roe v. Wade, which some cite to claim the bills would waste time and money on a doomed legal battle. Their proponents, however, argue that their purpose is to force a Supreme Court review that could finally overturn the 1973 ruling, hope fueled by the speculation that President Donald Trump’s nominees to the high court are on their side.