Mississippi’s governor has signed into law the most restrictive abortion measure in the United States, which was immediately challenged in court by abortion rights advocates who say it is unconstitutional.
Republican Governor Phil Bryant said he was proud to sign the bill banning abortion after 15 weeks of gestation with some exceptions, according to a statement from spokesman Knox Graham.
“I am committed to making Mississippi the safest place in America for an unborn child, and this bill will help us achieve that goal,” Bryant said.
The law takes effect immediately. Previous Mississippi law banned abortion at 20 weeks after conception, similar to limits in 17 other states.
Abortion rights advocates have said the measure targets the state’s only abortion provider, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which provides abortions for up to 16 weeks after conception.
The Center for Reproductive Rights said it had filed suit in U.S. District Court on behalf of the clinic to block the Mississippi law. It said the law violated Supreme Court precedent that a state may not ban abortion before the fetus can survive outside the womb.
“Politicians are not above the rule of law, and we are confident this dangerous bill will be struck down like every similar attempt before it,” Nancy Northup, the Center for Reproductive Rights’ president and chief executive, said in a statement.
The U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion in its 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling. The country’s highest court has since banned the prohibition of abortion before fetal viability, usually seen at about 20 weeks of gestation.