The Senate and House passed their individual “heartbeat” bills on Wednesday. The bills in both chambers would essentially ban abortions after a heartbeat is detectable, and would also require a physician to check for a heartbeat before an abortion is performed.

The bills each spurred quite the debate on both floors. Those for and against spoke passionately about why they were or were not in support of the bill.

“A beating heart means life has begun and should be protected,” Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said. “This bill is another step in our work to make Mississippi the safest place in America for an unborn child.”

The Senate was first to bring the bill to the floor. SB 2116 would require a doctor to listen for a heartbeat before performing an abortion, and if one is detected would be in direct opposition of the law if they continued with the procedure. The bill does provide an exemption for cases of medical emergencies, heads to the House for consideration. The bill is sponsored by Sens. Angela Hill, R-Picayune, and Chris Caughman, R-Mendenhall.

One amendment was offered on the bill by Senator Derrick Simmons that would exempt women who are the victims of rape or incest from abiding by the regulations offered by the bill. However, it failed 32-16.

As the Senate moved on to final passage of the bill, two women spoke on the bill, the first of which was Senator Angela Hill who was in favor of the bill. Hill tearfully asked Senators to vote to pass this bill to protect the lives of the unborn.

“I want our state to be known as a state that supports those who cannot support itself. These children have a unique DNA, they are not the woman’s body. The womb should be the safest place for an unborn child,” said Hill.



After she left the podium, Senator Deborah Dawkins spoke against the bill. Her argument against the bill, was that some scientists disagree on what a “heartbeat is.” She said some scientists would not consider the beating that is picked up at the 6-8 week mark as a heartbeat, but rather the pulsating embryonic tissue that may eventually become a heart.

“There are already plenty of obstacles for women seeking reproductive healthcare in Mississippi. This proposed legislation takes rights away from women and their physicians,” said Sen. Dawkins.

The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 34-14, one present and one absent.

During the debate in the Senate, the House picked up their version of the bill HB 732. Similar arguments were brought forward by Representatives such as provisions for rape and incest victims, required sex-education classes in public schools, and whether or not the intent of the bill was to simply ban all abortions.

When an amendment made by Representative Jarvis Dortch to exempt victims of rape and incest, failed, Rep. Scott asked if those who authored this bill asked the women of legislature how they might feel about the lack of provision.

Rep. Steve Holland went so far as to accuse those who brought the bill forth this year only did it because it is an election year. Many Representatives sited that similar bills across the nation have been challenged in law suits as unconstitutional based on the Federal Roe v. Wade ruling. In speaking on the bill Rep. Sykes said that these decisions should be ones made between a woman and her physician and that no matter the laws that were passed, women would still have abortions just maybe not safe ones.

The bill passed in the House with a vote of 81-36.

Both bills will now change chambers for more delegation.