USA: Mississippi bans abortion after 20 weeks

Publié le : 4 April 2014

 Last Tuesday, the two Mississippi Houses passed a draft bill banning abortion after the 20th week (of amenorrhoea), i.e. during the 18th week of pregnancy, with no exception in the case or rape or incest. This draft bill authorises two dispensations: If the mother’s life is in danger or when it has been established that the foetus has no chance of survival.

The bill was passed with 90 votes for and 21 against in the Lower Chamber compared to 41 for and 10 against in the Senate. The Governor of Mississippi, Phil Bryant, announced that he had countersigned this draft bill which constitutes "a major step towards protecting the unborn children of Mississippi". In fact, the viability threshold of a premature infant was assessed between the 22nd and 24th week (of amenorrhoea).

Overall, 13 of the US states have recently passed a law banning abortion after 20 weeks: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Texas. West Virginia was the first Democratic state to vote on this kind of draft bill which the State Governor eventually refused to sign, believing it to be "against the constitution". Moreover, in Arizona, the two Chambers voted on the bill before the latter was presented to a Federal Appeal Court which deemed it to be contrary to the Supreme Court’s decision regarding Roe v. Wade, which authorised abortion in the United States.

This Mississippi draft bill comes at a time when concern and indignation are being expressed about late abortion practices.  It should be remembered that the Council of Europe was questioned about this "drama" by an MP last February (Gènéthique press review on February 10th, 2014). And the UN was also questioned on the same subject last month (Gènéthique press review on March 17th, 2014).

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