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Mississippi lawmaker introduces heartbeat abortion ban bill

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A North Mississippi lawmaker hopes a bill restricting abortions in the magnolia state will come out of committee soon.

He's hoping to ban abortions when a heartbeat can be detected in a fetus.

Moments before leaving for the state's capital on Monday, State Representative Robert Foster talked to us about House Bill 529, also known as the Mississippi heartbeat abortion ban.

"It's to ban abortions after a heartbeat can be detected in a fetus," Rep. Foster said.

The bill would ban certain abortions unless a mother's life is at risk. Then the decision would be between a mother and the provider about what to do.

Rep. Foster, who is from Hernando, recently announced his candidacy for Governor. This is his second year second year pushing the bill.

"I believe we should protect the lives of unborn children just the way we protect all other lives. In my opinion, there is no difference," he said.

The lawmaker acknowledges there seems to be more attention on the controversial issue this year, considering what has been in the news in other states like New York.

In January 2019, New York's governor signed off on safeguards in Roe v. Wade, including late-term abortions when a woman's health is endangered.

In 2018, federal courts overturned Mississippi's move to ban abortions after 15 weeks. Rep. Foster said if needed, he believes the issue is worth taking to court again.

"To me, I believe it is our responsibility to fight for people's life and liberty and even the unborn. If that is something we go to court over, that's a good cause to be in court," he said.

But on the other side of the issue, Rebecca Terrell, Executive Director of CHOICES, says bills like this limits rights.

"We try to keep our supporters informed about what's going on in their own communities about this kind of legislation. Letting them know that this is about controlling women's rights to restrict their reproduction," Terrell said.

Rep. Foster says he's now hoping the issue will be voted on in committee so it can reach other Mississippi lawmakers. He says he has the support of other top lawmakers in the state.

Meanwhile, Governor Bill Lee of Tennessee says he would "support" similar legislation.

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