Abortion-inducing drugs bill passes with no debate

JACKSON — A bill headed to Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant says a physician would have to be present when a woman takes abortion-inducing drugs.

Senate Bill 2795 also says the woman would have to return to the doctor’s office two weeks later for a follow-up examination.

With little explanation and no debate, the Senate passed the final version of the bill 46-6 yesterday. The House passed it 84-30 last Friday.

Supporters say the bill is designed to prevent the practice of the drugs being administered by someone from a remote location while communicating by phone or webcam.

While Bryant’s spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday, the governor has said frequently that he wants to end abortion in Mississippi. If he signs the bill, it would become law July 1.

Sen. Brice Wiggins, R-Pascagoula, said the bill received support from state and national Right to Life groups and from the state Baptist association. He also said the Mississippi State Medical Association and the OB-GYN association were “fine with it.”

Republican Sen. Sally Doty, of Brookhaven, was among those voting for the bill.

“It’s very important for me to look for ways to safeguard women’s health,” Doty said. “I think this helps set standards that will help reach that goal.”

Democratic Sens. Kenny Wayne Jones, of Canton, and Derrick Simmons, of Greenville, voted against it, saying government shouldn’t be so deeply involved in women’s health decisions.

“It’s an attack on women’s rights,” Simmons said. “In recent national and state politics, there has been an emergence of men legislatively concerned about women’s health. I don’t understand that.”

Barbara Whitehead, president of Mississippi Right to Life, issued a news release thanking lawmakers for passing the bill and saying she expects Bryant to sign it into law.

“Good medical practice dictates that a doctor should be physically present when a woman undergoes an abortion,” Whitehead said. “This bill will help protect women’s health and save unborn babies’ lives.”

Felicia Brown-Williams, director of Public Policy for Planned Parenthood Southeast, urged Bryant to veto the bill.

“Women don’t turn to politicians for advice about mammograms, prenatal care, or cancer treatments,” Brown-Williams said. “Politicians should not be involved in a woman’s personal medical decisions about her pregnancy.”

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