Bill could end Miss. abortions

Published 12:10 am Saturday, April 7, 2012

NATCHEZ — A bill authored by Rep. Sam Mims and passed by the state legislature could effectively end abortion services in Mississippi, at least temporarily.

Mims, R-McComb, authored House Bill 1390, which amended existing Mississippi law to require that abortion providers be board certified obstetrician-gynecologists. It also mandated that each person performing an abortion have admitting and staff privileges at a local hospital. The bill has passed both the House and the Senate.

“If a person is going to be getting an abortion, we believe that the physician ought to be able to follow that patient to a hospital if something goes wrong during the abortion,” Mims said. “We think this will protect the women who are going in and receiving abortions.”

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There is at present only one certified abortion provider in the state, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Mims said it is his understanding that the physicians there do not have admitting privileges at local hospitals.

“It will be up to the hospitals in the Jackson metro area to make the determination (to allow admitting privileges),” Mims said. “Each hospital has committees who decide which physicians have privileges. It usually takes 60-90 days for that to happen.”

The new law could effectively close the clinic, he said.

“I, along with many of my colleagues, am pro-life, and we believe that life begins at conception, and if we can pass legislation that will cause fewer abortions in Mississippi, that is a positive result,” Mims said.

The new law is focused not on patients, Mims said, but on providers.

“The only issue it deals with is making sure the person performing the abortion is certified,” he said. “It is not addressing when abortions can take place, it doesn’t have personhood definitions or talk about (abortion law) exceptions. This is different than what has been introduced in the past.”

The bill was sent to Gov. Phil Bryant’s office Thursday. It awaits his signature.