Passing through a Mississippi House committee, a bill banning discriminatory abortions will soon appear before the House for a full debate. House Bill 1295, or the Life Equality Act of 2020 would not allow abortions on the basis of race, sex, or “genetic error,” and draws on precedents established by anti-discrimination laws. A woman seeking an abortion would face no charges under the proposed law, but a physician who performs a discriminatory abortion may be found guilty of a felony and face 10 years in prison.
Under the state’s current laws, abortion is prohibited past 20 weeks, and a 24-hour waiting period is in effect. Though the state of Mississippi has passed laws before to ban abortions after 15 weeks, and outlaw the procedure when a heartbeat is detectable, the courts struck both these measures down.
Committee Chairman Nick Bain praised the bill, stating that it’s in line with the state’s stance on abortion. On Twitter, Rep. Bain shared a photo he had taken with the family of a young boy with Down syndrome. House Bill 1295 emphasizes the favorable medical outcomes for children with congenital impairments, stating how despite positive post-natal outcomes, abortion is still encouraged where there’s a chance of disability.
In the United States, the estimated termination rate for children with Down syndrome is 67 percent, but in countries like Iceland, the termination rate is close to 100 percent. The legal cutoff for abortion is 16 weeks in Iceland, but abortion can be permitted past this limit if there’s been a Down syndrome diagnosis.
Over a dozen states have passed laws similar to the one introduced in Mississippi, but the only state to ban abortions for all three discriminatory reasons – race, sex, and fetal abnormalities – is Missouri.