Over the last several years, AUL has worked with Mississippi to enact numerous life-affirming laws, such as its informed consent law and comprehensive protection for healthcare freedom of conscience. In 2013, using AUL model legislation, Mississippi enacted legislation requiring a physician to physically examine a woman before administering abortion-inducing drugs. As a result of these and other efforts the state’s abortion rate has dropped by more than 60 percent.
- In Pro-Choice Mississippi v. Fordice, the Mississippi Supreme Court found that the state constitution’s right of privacy includes “an implicit right to have an abortion.” However, the court still upheld the state’s informed consent law, 24-hour reflection period before an abortion, and a two-parent consent requirement before a minor may obtain an abortion.
- Mississippi has enacted legislation banning abortion, except in cases of life endangerment, should Roe v. Wade be overturned.
- Mississippi prohibits partial-birth abortion.
- A physician may not perform an abortion on a woman until at least 24 hours after the woman receives counseling on the medical risks of abortion including the link between abortion and breast cancer, the medical risks of carrying the pregnancy to term, the probable gestational age of the unborn child, medical assistance benefits, and the legal obligations of the child’s father. Mississippi also provides written material describing the development of the unborn child, the medical risks of abortion, available state benefits, and public and private agencies offering alternatives to abortion.
- In addition, an abortion provider is required to perform an ultrasound on a woman seeking abortion. The woman must be offered the opportunity to view the ultrasound image, receive a copy of the image, and listen to the unborn child’s heartbeat. Abortion facilities must purchase ultrasound equipment.
- A physician may not perform an abortion on an unemancipated minor under the age of 18 without the written consent of both parents unless there is a medical emergency, the minor is the victim of incest by her father (in such circumstances, the consent of the minor’s mother is sufficient), or the minor obtains a court order. The two-parent consent requirement has been upheld by both a federal appellate court and the Mississippi Supreme Court.
- Mississippi mandates minimum health and safety regulations for abortion clinics performing more than 10 abortions per month and/or more than 100 abortions per year. The regulations prescribe minimum health and safety standards for the building or facility, clinic administration, staffing, and pre-procedure medical evaluations.
- Further, Mississippi requires second-trimester abortions be performed in hospitals, ambulatory surgical facilities, or a licensed Level I abortion facility (as defined by statute).
- Only practicing physicians licensed by the State of Mississippi may perform abortions. Abortion providers must maintain hospital admitting privileges and be board certified in obstetrics and gynecology.
- The Abortion Complication Reporting Act requires abortion providers to report any incident where a woman dies or needs further medical treatment as a result of an abortion. The measure applies to both surgical and nonsurgical abortions and requires hospitals to report the number of patients treated for complications resulting from abortions.
- The state also requires that deaths resulting from a criminal abortion, self-induced abortion, or abortion performed because of sexual abuse be reported to the medical examiner.
- Mississippi includes “reproductive healthcare facilities” in the definition of mandatory reporters for suspected child sexual abuse.
- Mississippi funds abortions for women eligible for public assistance when necessary to preserve the woman’s life, the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, or in cases involving fetal abnormalities.
- Mississippi restricts the use of state facilities for the performance of abortion.
- Public school nurses are prohibited from providing abortion counseling or referring any student to abortion counseling or abortion clinics.
- No money in the “Mississippi Children’s Trust Fund,” established to assist child abuse and neglect programs and services, may be used for abortion counseling.
- Health insurance funds for state employees may not be used for insurance coverage of abortion unless an abortion is necessary to preserve the life or physical health of the mother.
- Further, insurance companies participating in the state insurance Exchanges established pursuant to the federal healthcare law cannot offer policies that provide abortion coverage within the Exchanges, except in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest.
- Mississippi offers “Choose Life” and “We Love Life” license plates, the proceeds of which benefit pregnancy care centers and/or other organizations providing abortion alternatives.
Legal Recognition and Protection of Unborn and Newly Born:
- The killing of an unborn child at any stage of gestation is a form of homicide.
- Mississippi defines a nonfatal assault on an unborn child as a criminal offense.
- Further, Mississippi law also provides that an attack on a pregnant woman resulting in a stillbirth or miscarriage is a criminal assault.
- Mississippi authorizes a wrongful death (civil) action for an unborn child (after quickening) is killed through violence or negligence.
- The state has created a specific affirmative duty of physicians to provide medical care and treatment to infants born alive at any stage of development.
- Mississippi law protects the anonymity of the parent relinquishing a newborn under the state’s infant abandonment statute.
- Mississippi maintains no laws regarding human cloning, destructive embryo research, fetal experimentation, human egg harvesting, or assisted reproductive technologies.
- In each of the last three years, Mississippi has enacted appropriations measures prohibiting state funds from being used in research in which a human embryo is killed or destroyed.
End of Life Laws:
- In Mississippi, assisted suicide is a felony.
Healthcare Freedom of Conscience:
Participation in Abortion:
- The Mississippi Healthcare Rights of Conscience Act, based on AUL model legislation, provides comprehensive freedom of conscience protection for healthcare providers, institutions, and insurance companies (including pharmacists and pharmacies) who conscientiously object to participating in any healthcare service including abortion.
Participation in Research Harmful to Human Life:
- Mississippi protects the civil rights of all healthcare providers who conscientiously object to participating in any healthcare services, including destructive embryo research and human cloning.
What Happened in 2013:
- Mississippi enacted a measure, partially based on AUL’s Abortion-Inducing Drugs Safety Act, requiring that a physician examine a woman before providing abortion-inducing drugs. Further, the physician must follow “the standard of care,” and the provider or his or her agent must also schedule a follow-up appointment for the woman.
- Mississippi enacted three appropriations measures prohibiting state funds from being used in research in which a human embryo is killed or destroyed.
- It considered measures prohibiting abortion when an unborn child has a heartbeat, requiring abortion providers or personnel to report suspected child sexual abuse, restricting abortion funding.
- Mississippi considered legislation prohibiting destructive embryo research, human cloning for all purposes, and the creation of chimeras (human-animal hybrids).
Recommendations for Mississippi
- Women’s Health Defense Act (5-month abortion limitation)
- Abortion-Inducing Drugs Safety Act
- Parental Involvement Enhancement Act
- Component of the Child Protection Act providing remedies for third-party interference with parental rights
- Penalties for failing to comply with the state’s informed consent and parental consent laws
- State Constitutional Amendment (providing that there is no state constitutional right to abortion)
- Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act
- Joint Resolution Commending Pregnancy Resource Centers
Legal Recognition and Protection for the Unborn:
- Unborn Wrongful Death Act (for a pre-viable child)
- Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act
- Human Cloning Prohibition Act
- Destructive Embryo Research Act
- Prohibition on Public Funding of Human Cloning and Destructive Embryo Research Act