A bill banning discriminatory abortions on the basis of race, sex, or “genetic error” has passed a Mississippi House committee and will soon go before the House for full debate.
House Bill 1295, also known as the Life Equality Act of 2020, draws on precedents from the Civil Rights era and other anti-discrimination laws, and it also extensively cites Box v. Planned Parenthood. In the dissent of this decision, Justice Clarence Thomas pointed out that states have an interest in ensuring that abortion does not become a “tool of modern-day eugenics.” At its heart, that is what House Bill 1295 attempts to do. The bill also points to the reality of increasingly good medical outcomes for babies with congenital issues, stating, “Abortions predicated on the presence or presumed presence of genetic abnormalities continue to occur despite the increasingly favorable post-natal outcomes for human beings perceived as handicapped or disabled.”
Under the proposed law, a physician who performs a discriminatory abortion such as one based on race, sex, or genetic abnormality could be guilty of a felony and face up to 10 years in prison. A woman seeking such an abortion would not face charges. The only exception would be in the case of a “medical emergency” where a mother’s life is in danger. (See here for more information on why abortion — the deliberate destruction of a human being in the womb — is actually never medically necessary.)
Abortion is prohibited under state law past 20 weeks, and a 24-hour waiting period is in effect for women seeking abortions. Mississippi has passed laws banning abortions after 15 weeks, as well as outlawing abortion after a baby’s heartbeat can be detected, but both measures were struck down by the courts.
Committee Chairman Nick Bain said that the bill is in line with Mississippi’s record on abortion. “We have had a solid record of supporting pro-life measures, and we wanted to continue that,” Bain said, according to the Associated Press.
On Twitter, Rep. Bain posted a photo of the family of a young boy who has Down syndrome. They came to speak in favor of the proposed bill. Babies with Down syndrome are especially at risk for abortion. In the U.S., babies with the condition are aborted at a high rate. In some countries such as Iceland, the selective abortion rate for children with Down syndrome is as high as 90%, and abortion is specifically allowed for these babies after the otherwise legal cutoff date of 16 weeks.
Currently, 13 states have restrictions on discriminatory abortions. Two states prohibit race-based abortion, two states prohibit abortion for fetal anomalies, and nine prohibit sex-based abortions.