The Life Equality Act, House Bill 1295, passed out of Senate Committee Judiciary B last week. If signed into law, it will prohibit abortions from taking place in Mississippi on the basis of race, sex, or genetic abnormality except in medical emergencies. 

It might come as a surprise to Mississippians that this discrimination takes place at the earliest stages of life. Diagnoses of genetic abnormalities like Down Syndrome and Cystic Fibrosis lead to termination of the child more often than not. Even in non-fatal cases, as many as 67 percent of babies with Down syndrome are aborted in the United States. Recent evidence suggests that as many as 95 percent of parents receiving a prenatal diagnosis of cystic fibrosis elect to terminate the child. On the basis of race and sex, a family’s preference for a male or a non-bi-racial child must absolutely come to an end in Mississippi. The pressure many women receive to have a particular kind of child is unacceptable in our diverse society. 

The Senate committee was the most recent checkpoint for The Life Equality Act on its way to being added to state law. Led by Sen. Brice Wiggins (R-Pascagoula), the Judiciary B Committee Chairman, an affirmative voice vote sent this law to the Senate floor for consideration.

A proponent of the bill and member of the considering committee, Sen. Jeremy England (R- Ocean Springs), spoke out on social media with his support, “I believe it is of the utmost importance that our laws are applied equally and that they provide equal protection of our God-given rights. This of course includes the right to life.” 

Presenting the bill to the committee was Sen. Joey Fillingane (R-Sumrall), who answered questions from the committee members on Tuesday. A voice vote for the bill was then carried out which offered an overwhelming affirmation. 

The bill was introduced in the House by Representative by Rep. Carolyn Crawford (R- Pass Christian) and the Senate version of the bill was introduced this year by Sen. Jenifer Branning (R-Philadelphia) – two women dedicated to the protection of life in Mississippi. 

The bill got a boost from the support of Mississippi’s Catholic Bishops, Joseph Kopacz and Louis Kihneman III, of Jackson and Biloxi respectively. The two Catholic leaders sent a powerful joint letter in support of the legislation.

If this law is passed, it pushes against the narrative and legal precedent that states do not have an interest in protecting life before the viability of an unborn child. In fact, race, sex, and genetic abnormalities can all be determined before the stage of viability. Eugenic practices and discrimination are certainly interests of the state-level government. 

It is critical that our state stand against discrimination in the womb. Mississippians affirm that life has value- regardless of race, sex, or ability. With conversations surrounding discrimination at the forefront in our society at the moment, it is critical that we seek to defend the voiceless as well. Those innocents in the womb are unable to defend themselves but are worth defending nonetheless.