The Senate passed a bill late Tuesday that would prohibit a specific type of abortion lawmakers called “dismemberment abortions” in Mississippi.

The debate on the Senate floor was at times gruesome, mirroring the language of the bill itself.

The abortion method, medically termed “dilation and evacuation,” tears the fetus from limb to limb before removing it from the uterus.

Proponents of the bill, sponsored by the Mississippi Right to Life organization, refer to the process as “dismemberment abortions.”

“If there’s one (dismemberment abortion) performed, then we ought to move forward with this legislation, especially if other types of abortion are available,” said Sen. Joey Fillingane, R-Sumrall.

Forty senators, both Democrat and Republican, voted to pass the bill, with just six opposed. Because the Senate amended the original House bill, it goes back to the House for consideration and a possible House/Senate conference committee.

Several senators questioned the constitutionality of the bill, including Sen. Willie Simmons, D-Cleveland, and Sen. Hob Bryan, D-Amory. Fillingane said three other states – Kansas, Oklahoma and West Virginia – have passed similar legislation, and none of those states have gone to federal court over the laws.

The Senate skipped nine bills on the calendar Tuesday around 6 p.m. to open debate on the abortion bill, surprising even Senate staffers who expected to finish around 5 p.m.

The Senate passed 17 bills Tuesday, all of which were general bills from the House of Representatives.

Most notably, the Senate passed a bill that would allow guns in church and give legal protection to church members with guns.

Other notable bills that were passed in the Senate:

• A bill that would establish a policy to oversee administration of certain failing schools with an “F” rating for two consecutive years. (House Bill 989)

• A bill that would extend the state’s current sex-related/abstinence education and Teen Pregnancy Prevention Task Force for four more years.

• A bill that would create Act to Restore Hope, Opportunity and Prosperity for Everyone (HOPE), which would create a Medicaid Fraud Control Unit within the Attorney General’s office. (House Bill 1116)

• A bill that prohibits people from harvesting oysters in public waters at night. (House Bill 815)

• A bill that requires municipal clerks to be appointed instead of being elected. (House Bill 130)


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Adam Ganucheau, as Mississippi Today's editor-in-chief, oversees the newsroom and works with the editorial team to fulfill our mission of producing high-quality journalism in the public interest. Adam has covered politics and state government for Mississippi Today since February 2016. A native of Hazlehurst, Adam has worked as a staff reporter for AL.com, The Birmingham News and The Clarion-Ledger and his work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Adam earned his bachelor’s in journalism from the University of Mississippi.