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House and Senate pass HeartBeat bills...

House and Senate pass HeartBeat bills out of Committee

By: Sarah Ulmer - February 5, 2019

An unexpected turn of events late Tuesday, the Senate Public Health Committee passed SB 2116 and moments later the House Public Health Committee passed HB 732, both coined “The HeartBeat bill.”

In the Senate: 

The bill, authored by Senator Joey Fillingane, would prevent a physician from performing an abortion if a heartbeat is detected. Typically a heartbeat is detected between six to eight weeks gestation.

Shortly after Sen. Fillingane’s explanation of the bill, a heated discussion among lawmakers ensued. Senator John Horhn asked several questions on the constitutionality of this bill. He referenced last years 15-week abortion bill. Since it was signed into law, the Mississippi Court system has deemed that bill unconstitutional. Fillingane said an appeal has been filed and it is still in litigation.

This bill is by far more limiting than that bill.

The abortion conversation has been one of national attention as of late, with New York’s recent expansion on how far along a woman can be and still have an abortion performed. So while Mississippi’s 2018 bill may still be tied up in litigation, Fillingane made the point that he doesn’t believe legislators should wait for courts to decide the fate of Mississippi children.

“I don’t think other states are sitting around waiting to see what the courts are going to do.,” said Fillingane.

Senator David Blount spoke on the bill, read the ruling from the Mississippi Supreme Court on last years 15-week abortion bill. He said he has, in the past but not last year, voted for these similar abortion measures but the reason he did not support last years legislation was that he knew that the Federal courts would not allow a bill like that to determine Mississippi’s individual abortion law.

“Again and again we pass legislation, some of which I’ve voted for, that we later find out is unconstitutional by federal court,” said Blount.

“I thank Senators Hill and Caughman for introducing legislation to stop the barbaric practice of ending life in the womb even though a heartbeat is plainly detected,” Lt. Gov. Reeves said. “I am committed to making Mississippi the safest place in America for an unborn child.”

The bill would provide an exemption for cases of medical emergencies, heads to the Senate for consideration. The bill is sponsored by Sens. Angela Hill, R-Picayune, and Chris Caughman, R-Mendenhall.

In the House: 

Literally minutes later in the House Public Health Committee, Chairman Mims brought up HB 732 (not to be confused with another heartbeat bill HB 529). The bill was authored by Representative Brown, and co-authored by Rep. Foster.

The bill begins with findings of the Legislature, including statistics of natural pregnancies that end in spontaneous miscarriages after a heartbeat is detected, in vitro pregnancy viability after the first trimester, and the inference then that the heartbeat is a key indicator that an “unborn human” is viable.

Representative Mims received similar criticism from other committee members like those in the Senate presented.

Representative Bell asks how this bill actually differs from the 15-week abortion bill passed in 2018. He then questions Mims on the legislature’s authority to make these kinds of decisions for women. Bell asks if the numbers have been looked at as to how many women in the state would be affected by a bill that would essentially ban abortions after the 6-week mark.

“Where do you get the right to dictate what a woman does to her body?” asked Bell.

Mims responded that legislators were given that right when they were elected to represent the people at the capitol.

On that note, Representative Kathy Sykes expressed her disappointment “yet again” in the Legislature’s decision to restrict women’s health choices.


“It’s just really a shame that once again we are going to put women lives in jeopardy by passing HB 732. I ask you to vote against this bill. I don’t see the urgency of it,’ said Sykes.

The bill was passed by a voice vote in the committee. Both bills will now head to their respective floors for a full vote.



About the Author(s)
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Sarah Ulmer

Sarah is a Mississippi native, born and raised in Madison. She is a graduate of Mississippi State University, where she studied Communications, with an emphasis in Broadcasting and Journalism. Sarah’s experience spans multiple mediums, including extensive videography with both at home and overseas, broadcasting daily news, and hosting a live radio show. In 2017, Sarah became a member of the Capitol Press Corp in Mississippi and has faithfully covered the decisions being made by leaders on some of the most important issues facing our state. Email Sarah: