Attorney general: Defending abortion bill could be tough

Mississippi's attorney general says it could be tough to defend a bill lawmakers have passed banning most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Jim Hood says he expects "an immediate and expensive legal challenge" to the bill, which has now passed both Republican-controlled chambers of the legislature.

The Democratic attorney general notes that measures in other states banning abortions after 20 weeks have been struck down. Mississippi also has such a ban, but it has not been challenged yet.

Hood's comments Thursday came shortly after the House approved by a 75-34 vote what could become the nation's most restrictive abortion law. Republican Gov. Phil Bryant Thursday reiterated his previous pledge to sign the bill.

The owner of Mississippi's only abortion clinic has vowed to sue.

There are two exceptions to the bill: if the fetus has a health problem that would prevent it from surviving outside the womb at full term, or if the pregnant woman's life or a "major bodily function" is threatened by the pregnancy. Pregnancies as a result of rape and incest would not be exempt.

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Pro-life groups are applauding passage of the bill.

The conservative-leaning Mississippi Center for Public Policy helped craft the bill and praised lawmakers for passing it. Acting president, Jameson Taylor, said the bill protects maternal health and "further(s) the state's interest in protecting unborn human life." He added that the center is "thrilled" for having played a role.

Pro-Life Mississippi said fetuses in the womb "deserve the right to life, which is supported by this bill." The group said in a statement that it appreciates legislators' efforts to pass bills "that are grounded in science and protect human life."

Pro-abortion-rights groups voiced opposition to the bill.

Adrienne Kimmell is vice president of communications and strategic research for the national nonprofit NARAL Pro-Choice America. She says the bill brings Mississippi women "one dangerous step closer to losing their constitutional right to access abortion."

Shivana Jorawar is state legislative counsel for the national nonprofit Center for Reproductive Rights. She says the bill sends a message to women "that their state legislature is out to undermine their abortion access and reproductive health."