Here’s how Mississippi’s trigger law works now that SCOTUS has overturned Roe v. Wade
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi is one of 13 states with what’s known as a trigger law. That means with Friday’s decision from the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, abortion access is almost immediately banned across the state.
Mississippi put its version of a trigger law on the books in 2007 with a bill authored by Sen. Joey Fillingane. It’s not an automatic. It includes a certification step from the Attorney General within 10 days of the court’s decision.
“It’s no decision making authority involved in that certification process, it’s just a legality,” explained Sen. Fillingane. “She would have a period to certify that, in fact, the opinion has been issued, that it is been filed in the court clerk’s office, and that is now the law of the land.”
Fillingane says it was a backstop to avoid rushing back for a vote if the court ruled down the road.
“The idea is that we’re only in session 90 days out of the year, typically the first quarter of the year,” he explained. “And typically, the Supreme Court decisions of this magnitude are typically handed down, and the end of June... we wouldn’t be in session again for another half a year.”
There are two exceptions in that law, protection of the life of the mother, and rape when there’s a formal charge.
“If it’s proven, not just an allegation of a rape... but actual proof like a document filing with the local police department that ‘I’ve been raped,’” Fillingane said.
“There won’t be a place for anybody to say, ‘Oh, I’m going to use the exception to go down to the clinic. The clinic is not going to be there.”
“The law in Mississippi says we have 10 days to remain in business from the moment the Attorney General signs the certification,” said Diane Derzis, owner of Jackson Women’s Health. “I would bet money that that certification was waiting in the office today. So that means that we will be open for the next 10 days, and we will be seeing patients for the next 10 days.”
In addition to the trigger law states, several others have significant restrictions short of a ban. Of note, Florida’s law will change July 1 to include a 24-hour waiting period and 15 week ban. So…
“What that means for Mississippians is the nearest clinic outside of Florida if you are over 15 weeks means that you will have to travel the closest clinic will be in Granite City, Illinois,” said Michelle Colon, Executive Director and Co-Founder of SHERo Mississippi. “That is a city or suburb on the other side of the line of St. Louis.”
Groups like SHERo Mississippi are working on organizing the resources necessary for reaching those out of state locations.
“The obstacle is, you know, having to travel seven hours from Jackson,” noted Colon. “That’s a seven hour drive from Jackson. If you are someone who lives on the coast, that’s a 10-hour drive. And that’s still unacceptable for Mississippians to have to, you know, drive anywhere over an hour to get medical care because abortion is essential medical, medical care, health care.”
Sen. Fillingane notes that exceptions where they are saving the life of the mother are likely taking place in hospital settings rather than the clinic anyway. And the legislature believed it was important to keep that exception.
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