Mississippi and Oklahoma Governors Sign New Abortion Restrictions

In Mississippi, abortions after 18 weeks are banned, while Oklahoma doctors will have to follow outdated protocols when prescribing abortion drugs.


Cat Sidh/Flickr

Anti-abortion efforts from states seem to come in waves. We'll get a little respite, but then some event or election cycle starts it off again, and here we go. The big trends a few years ago seemed to be mandatory ultrasound bills and "personhood" amendments. Recently, Republican state legislators have been pressing for restrictions on abortion clinics, doctors, and medications, as well as abortion bans after 18-20 weeks pregnancy. 

In Oklahoma, Republican Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill into law Tuesday that requires doctors to follow outdated protocols when prescribing abortion-inducing drugs. The old protocols, set when the Food and Drug Administration first approved abortion-drug mifepristone (also known as RU-486) in 2000, were based on clinical trials involving women no more than seven weeks pregnant. So the FDA approved mifepristone for use at up to seven weeks pregnant, at the dose given in the trial.

But doctors commonly prescribe mifepristone "off-label," i.e., in ways other than exactly intended by the FDA (a common practice for all sorts of medications, and okay in the absense of additional state regulation). Research conducted in the interim 14 years since mifepristone was first approved has shown that the drug is safe and effective through 63 days pregnancy, and can be taken at lower doses. For no apparent reason other than restricting abortion options, the Oklahoma law will force doctors to revert back to the old standards. 

Meanwhile, in Mississippi, GOP Gov. Phil Bryant signed a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks gestation (18 weeks from conception), the midpoint of a full-term pregnancy. This is despite the fact that the state's only abortion clinic doesn't perform the procedure after 16 weeks. 

Most states allow abortion until the point of fetal viability—when the fetus could survive outside the uterus on its own—which is around 24 weeks. Nine states (Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, and Texas) ban abortions after 22 weeks gestation, or 20 weeks from conception, with various exceptions for health issues, rape, and incest. 

Arizona is the only state other than Mississippi to attempt an abortion ban 18 weeks from conception. It was blocked by a federal appeals court, where judges found it unconstitutional. But Associated Press writer Emily Wagster Pettus notes that "Mississippi is in a conservative federal appeals court district, the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit, so a legal challenge might have a different outcome." 

NEXT: Virginia State Police Raid Grandmother's House for Drugs, Make an Arrest Two Doors Down

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Oh goody. Is Eddie awake yet?

    1. Based on my reading of the comments, you’re covering the main points without my help.

  2. Most states allow abortion until the point of fetal viability?when the fetus could survive outside the uterus on its own?which is around 24 weeks.

    Naturally, at the margin its hard to tell when any given fetus is viable, but the working assumption in NICUs is that 20 weeks is worth a shot. There are documented cases of preemies as young as 22 weeks surviving. So 24 weeks may be kind of late, and if you went into a NICU and said that your hospital was just going to red-bag any delivered fetus under 24 weeks, you probably wouldn’t leave with your limbs intact. 18 is too soon (for now).

    If you say that abortion of a viable fetus is the termination of a person, then I can see the case for being optimistic and going with 20 or 22 weeks.

    1. Given the rate-of-change in that, maybe 18 is just preparing for the next generation? I was delivered at 30 weeks and they were prepared to airlift my mother and I to the regional NICU at the first sign of trouble. That was just about 35 years ago.

      1. Do all preemies hate objective case pronouns?

      2. Developmentally, do you find that you are still a few months behind your peers?

    2. The interesting thing here is that we are merely saying that the level of health technology demonstrates someone’s personhood. What happens when we develop the technology to bring an embryo completely to term from Conception? Do we say Abortion is now effectively illegal?

      It is an interesting line of thought, since it forces us to address two questions:

      1) Since viability is the measure of personhood, are we saying that Personhood is defined by technology?
      2) Even assuming an embryo is viable at 1 week, who is responsible for the costs associated with bringing it to term?

      1. Re: Overt,

        The interesting thing here is that we are merely saying that the level of health technology demonstrates someone’s personhood.

        That is what is being implied in the discussion above.

        As a pure libertarian, I do not subscribe to the notion that technology or any other sort of arbitrary test determines personhood. What determines personhood is reason, not artifices.

        I am a person. I stated it. I cannot deny my own personhood anymore that I can deny I am alive or that I exist because doing so would be a contradiction. I am also a human. I stated it. I cannot deny this fact because doing so would be a contradiction, for if I am not human, then who is making the statement?

        I CAN’T also deny the personhood or humanity of another human being, because doing so would also be a contradiction for if a human cannot be a person, then I can’t be one neither. But then who is making the assertion? If I am human and a person, then other humans are persons. If *I* deny their personhood, ipso facto *I* am denying MY OWN personhood.

        A human fetus IS a human being. It is not a dog, or a mimosa. Stating that a fetus is NOT a human is a contradiction, for a human is the result of the union of an egg and a sperm cell. I am the result of such union, and I am a human, so therefore the union IS a human and IS a person.

        1. Technically only true if your personhood is a direct result of your biological humanity – which while compelling, you haven’t proven in the above.

  3. Governor Mary Fallin. War on wimminz shifts to fratricide mode.

    1. Wouldn’t that e soricide?

  4. Can we just cut and paste the comment sections from every other abortion-related thread here so we can get it over with quicker?

    1. Trespasser!

      Invitee! Personal Responsibility!

      My body, my choice!




      I think that should cover it.

      1. Cool, now let’s discuss deep dish vs. pizza.

    2. Maybe if we talk about it more people will understand that we are trying to get some clarity of purpose in determining the viable state of being for a fetus which would generate individual rights under the Constitutio-BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!

      Just kidding.

      Abortion threads are the worst.

  5. But the polemics write themselves, and its so much fun.

  6. According to the law of the land, your kid isn’t viable for insurance purposes until age 26. Could that mean you can bump him off until his 81st trimester?

  7. Meanwhile, in Mississippi, GOP Gov. Phil Bryant signed a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks gestation (18 weeks from conception), the midpoint of a full-term pregnancy. This is despite the fact that the state’s only abortion clinic doesn’t perform the procedure after 16 weeks.

    So the law is irrelevant. Is that what you’re trying to say?

  8. the referenced Times piece said it was about what drug regimen a doctor could “administer”, but yours is about what they could “prescribe”. Since a prescription is nothing more than a statement of opinion, that would have to fall under freedom of speech.

  9. Good. A tiny libertarian victory.

    Oh, you’re against this. Oh…oh.

  10. I never understood the “or incest” part of these laws. The fact that it’s always juxtaposed with “rape” implies that it refers to consensual incest. That would lead me to believe the incest exclusion is for possible birth-defects, but then why not make the exclusion for certain birth-defects instead of incest?

    1. It sounds icky so you can use it to smear opponents if they don’t cede that to you.

  11. Because why follow medical consensus?

    Given that you support abortion, this isn’t a road you want to go down.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.