For the third time in four years, new abortion restrictions are being enacted in Mississippi.

Gov. Phil Bryant
Gov. Phil Bryant

Gov. Phil Bryant signed the “Mississippi Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act” on Friday. The law prohibits the procedure known as dilation and evacuation, the most common method for ending a pregnancy in the second trimester.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Sam Mims, R-McComb, who serves as chairman of the House Public Health Committee, attended the signing with Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Sen. Joey Fillingane, R-Sumrall.

“We’re making Mississippi the safest place in America for an unborn child,” Bryant said on Twitter.  Mims could not be reached for comment.

In 2012, the Legislature passed a law requiring physicians at abortion clinics to be board certified OB/GYNs with local admitting privileges. In 2014, lawmakers banned abortions after 20 weeks.

“From trying to close the state’s only abortion clinics to outright banning abortion services altogether, Mississippi politicians are fixated on coming between women and their doctors,” Nancy Northup, president and chief executive officer of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a press release.

Northrup added: “We call upon politicians to take on the real needs of Mississippi women and their families instead of passing laws that jeopardize their health and rob them of their rights.”

A 2003 report by the Guttmacher Institute states that dilation and evacuation is safer than medical abortion for terminating second-trimester pregnancies.

Diane Derzis, owner of the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Mississippi’s only remaining abortion clinic, said attorneys at the Center for Reproductive Rights are looking into whether the new law, which takes affect July 1, affects the clinic.

Derzis’ clinic has a case pending at the U.S. Supreme Court over the state’s 2012 admitting-privileges law.

She labeled the so-called dismemberment ban an example of “idiocy” and “wasting the taxpayers’ time and money.”

CRR officials say bans similar to Mississippi’s have been struck down in other states, including Kansas and Oklahoma.

In January, a federal judge ordered the state of North Carolina to pay CRR $1 million in legal fees in a case challenging a law requiring women seeking abortions to be shown a narrated ultrasound.

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Ryan L. Nave, a native of University City, Mo., served as Mississippi Today's editor-in-chief from May 2018 until April 2020. Ryan began his career with Mississippi Today February 2016 as an original member of the editorial team. He became news editor August 2016. Ryan has a bachelor’s in political science from the University of Missouri-Columbia and has worked for Illinois Times and served as news editor for the Jackson Free Press.