Tennessee Joins Mississippi in Banning Eugenic Abortion

By Anja Baker
December 9, 2020

In November, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Tennesee may prohibit eugenic abortions of preborn children based on race, sex, or genetic abnormality. This summer, Governor Bill Lee signed an omnibus pro-life bill with a variety of additions to abortion law.  Several abortion advocacy groups immediately filed emergency lawsuits, and District Judge William Campbell temporarily blocked the restrictions from taking effect.

Among the several conditions Governor Lee signed into law, not every limitation is active. Some restrictions will still be challenged in court. However, a ban on discriminatory abortions on the basis of race, sex, and genetic abnormality is now active law. Mississippi celebrates our neighbors to the North joining us in correcting this discriminatory practice. 

Mississippi passed The Life Equality Act (HB 1295) this summer, making Mississippi one of the nation’s leaders in the protection of life. This bill was sponsored by Rep. Carolyn Crawford (R- Pass Christian), and the Senate version of the bill was introduced by Sen. Jenifer Branning (R- Philadelphia) — two powerful female voices for the most vulnerable in our state. 

The bill's first step was made possible by Rep. Nick Bain's ( R-Corinth) leadership during the House committee vote. Sen. Brice Wiggins (R- Pascagoula) led the Senate committee vote, advocated for boldly by Sen. Joey Filingane (R-Sumrall) before the Judiciary B committee. Sen. Jeremey England (R- Ocean Springs) took to social media for this critical piece of legislation, “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.”

The Mississippi House Members who co-sponsored the bill alongside Rep. Crawford were Rep. Brady Williamson, Rep. Steve Hopkins, Rep. Stacey Hobgood-Wilkes, Rep. Lester Carpenter, Rep. William Tracy Arnold, Rep. Dana Criswell, Rep. Donnie Scoggin, Rep. Dana McLean, Rep. Chris Brown (20th), Rep. Dan Eubanks, Rep. Shane Barnett, Rep. Jansen Owen, Rep. Gene Newman, and Rep. Randy Boyd. 

The law signed into effect by Governor Tate Reeves prevents abortions from taking place because of diagnoses like Down Syndrome or Cystic Fibrosis. Even in non-fatal cases, as many as 67 percent of babies with Down syndrome are aborted in the United States. Respectively, an estimated 95 percent of babies given a prenatal diagnosis of Cystic Fibrosis are aborted. Increasingly, evidence displays the presence of abortions taking place when families prefer male babies to female. Just as devastating, pregnancy decisions are sometimes made on the basis of the race of the child. This bill makes a strong stand against the taking of a preborn life due to prejudice. Mississippi has made it illegal for abortionists to knowingly carry out discriminatory abortion, with criminal penalties. 

What does this mean for Mississippi?

With more states joining the movement to end discriminatory abortions each year, many legal experts anticipate these limitations soon moving to the US Supreme Court. This will be a groundbreaking case to follow because it may set the precedent on states’ abilities to restrict abortion before the age of viability when there is a proven state interest in providing protection to minority groups. This case, in turn, could call into question previous rulings across the courts of America. Tennessee and Mississippi will be strong allies calling to question—do states have the right to protect those being discriminated against, whether in the womb or outside of it?


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