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The Bill’s Passage Would Make It the First Abortion Ban in the Country Since Global Pandemic Began

Jackson — State Senators passed more extreme abortion legislation that targets specific populations of women by banning abortion on the basis of gender, race, or fetal diagnosis of a potential fetal anomaly. House Bill 1295, also known as the “Reason Ban”, prohibits abortion in a variety of circumstances, including eliminating access to early abortion in the case of a fetal diagnosis. It is the latest move by Republican lawmakers in the state to attack Mississippians’ reproductive freedom. 

So-called “reason bans” are unconstitutional. Politicians are not medical professionals and they have no right, legally or otherwise, to prevent women from seeking health care. Abortion is a deeply personal and sometimes complex decision that must be left to a woman, in consultation with her family, her faith, and her health care provider. The courts have already made it clear that lawmakers cannot, under any circumstances, prevent a woman from making the decision to have an abortion before viability. 

This bill threatens women’s lives and health by making abortions harder to obtain for the women who need them. House Bill 1295 won’t reduce the need for abortion in our communities. It only prevents people from accessing safe, legal abortion performed by qualified providers, and forces women to withhold information from their doctors. 

“As a disabled black mother I reject the disingenuous invoking of race, gender and disability while lawmakers refuse to enact policies to create true equity and equality. It's time that Mississippi lawmakers stop wasting time and energy on trying to police the reproductive lives of Mississippians. I strongly suggest they instead turn their attention to working on legislation that will make life better for low income families, children of color, people with disabilities including disabled parents. Policies like Medicaid expansion, fully funding education and equal pay,” said Laurie Bertram Roberts, Co-Founder and Director of Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund. 

“Sponsors of this bill claim that House Bill 1295 will combat gender and racial selection. The truth is, this bill only further perpetuates abortion stereotypes and sends a message that women cannot be trusted to make their own medical decisions. Doctors and patients need all of their options, especially in cases where complications in pregnancy develop.

“In the midst of a national movement for racial justice and a global pandemic which is ravaging the health and economic stability of Black communities, state senators passed an abortion ban explicitly targeting women of color. This is a new low - even for them. HB1295 is racist and discriminatory. It preys upon inaccurate and offensive stereotypes of communities of color in order to ban abortion and it exploits the disability community for political gain. Lawmakers should be ashamed to support this kind of legislation at any time, but especially now,” said Felicia Brown-Williams, Mississippi State Director for Planned Parenthood Southeast Advocates (PPSEA).

“This bill is harmful and will impact women of color and black women who are low income disproportionately.  It also opens the door to criminalization and will have unintended consequences that will hurt our families,” said Cassandra Welchlin, Mississippi Black Women's Roundtable, Co-convener/State Organizer.

“Every day women face the deeply personal decision of whether to continue a pregnancy. Every pregnancy and woman’s circumstance is different. We don’t know all of the reasons someone chooses to end a pregnancy – we aren’t in their shoes. But we can agree that the decision must always remain with the person, in consultation with their family and faith,” said Joshua Tom, Interim Executive Director and Legal Director of the ACLU of Mississippi.

“Faith in Women recognizes that the decisions to become a parent, when, and under what circumstances are deeply personal. This bill to further restrict abortion access does nothing to actually improve the lives of families making reproductive decisions. We wish that instead of focusing on eliminating abortion access at every opportunity, our legislature would take meaningful action toward creating a Mississippi in which all children and families can thrive. What about strengthening childcare support systems, ensuring a living wage, and expanding Medicaid?” said Ashley Peterson, Executive Director, Faith in Women

“We denounce any and all efforts by the state of Mississippi, that restricts the rights of Mississippians in accessing safe abortion. We support unrestricted access to abortion healthcare access and the women and girls seeking these services. These proposed laws are not only harmful and discriminatory against women’s health they cost the state millions of dollars in litigation.” - The SHERo Collective

“The state of Mississippi continues its relentless attacks against reproductive healthcare. There is never a ‘reason’ to ban a safe, non-invasive procedure such as abortion. We stand in solidarity in opposing such bans, at any stage. And support the rights of Mississippians to make their own family planning decisions void of government intrusion.” - Evonne Kaho, Founder & Executive Director of Love Me Unlimited 4 Life

“The Mississippi legislature is continuing its crusade against women and their ability to make their own healthcare decisions. This unconstitutional restriction adversely affects poor women who do not have the means to seek assistance elsewhere. It must not pass.” - Beth Orlansky, Advocacy Director, Mississippi Center for Justice 

"Every person deserves the right to choose when and how to start their family. The fight for reproductive rights is deeply linked to the fight for racial justice and the fight for equality for all. For those reasons, the Human Rights Campaign opposes HB 1295 and any attempt to restrict access to abortion in Mississippi." - Rob Hill, Mississippi state director for the Human Rights Campaign.

Instead of playing a divisive political game with the personal decisions of our families, our lawmakers should work to ensure that the people of Mississippi have access to the services they need and appropriate accommodations when they need them. 

Tags: Abortion restrictions, Mississippi