Subscribe to Breaking News emails

You have successfully subscribed to the Breaking News email.

Subscribe today to be the first to to know about breaking news and special reports.

Mississippi passes law banning abortion after 15 weeks

/ Source: Associated Press

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi lawmakers on Thursday passed what is likely to be the nation’s most restrictive abortion law, making the procedure illegal after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

The House voted 75-34 in favor of the measure, and Gov. Phil Bryant has said he will sign it.

The owner of Mississipi's only abortion clinic has said she'll sue if the bill goes into law — a move lawmakers not only know to expect, but seem to be encouraging, in hopes of eventually getting the nation's highest court to revisit its rulings and allow states to begin restricting abortion earlier in pregnancy.

"It seems like a pretty simple bill designed to test the viability line that the Supreme Court has drawn," said David Forte, a law professor at Ohio's Cleveland State University.

There are two exceptions to House Bill 1510: 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 are not exempt.

A number of states, including Mississippi, have already tiptoed up to the viability line with 20-week bans, although the U.S. Senate earlier this year rejected such a ban nationwide when supporters couldn't reach a 60-vote supermajority to act.

Related: This doctor just explained late-term abortion on Twitter

An appeals court in 2015 struck down efforts in North Dakota to ban most abortions after six weeks, when a fetus develops a detectable heartbeat, and in Arkansas after 12 weeks. Abortion rights supporters are dubious that the outcome in Mississippi would be any different.

"The Supreme Court has said and resaid again and again that states cannot prohibit women from obtaining abortions prior to viability, which is what a 15-week ban would do," said Hillary Schneller, staff attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights. The New York-based group, which advocates for free access to abortion, called the bill unconstitutional and “medically unsound.”

 House Judiciary B Committee Chairman Andy Gipson, R-Braxton, answers questions from lawmakers, about House Bill 1510, on what is likely to be the nation's most restrictive abortion law on March 8, 2018, at the Capitol in Jackson, Mississippi. Rogelio V. Solis / AP

Mississippi’s own 20-week ban has never been legally challenged, in part because the state’s only abortion clinic, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, doesn’t perform abortions that late in pregnancy. According to state Department of Health statistics, 85 percent of abortions in Mississippi took place before 12 weeks in 2016.

But Diane Derzis, who owns the clinic, has said the clinic does provide abortions until about 18 weeks after pregnancy. Most of Mississippi’s 2,500 abortions in 2015 took place at the clinic.

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
MORE FROM news

Have feedback?

How likely are you to recommend nbcnews.com to a friend or colleague?

0 = Very unlikely
10 = Very likely
Please select answer

Is your feedback about:

Please select answer

Leave your email if you’d like us to respond. (Optional)

Please enter a valid email address

Thank you!

Your feedback has been sent out. Please enjoy more of our content.

We appreciate your help making nbcnews.com a better place.