Mississippi’s 15-Week Limit On Abortion Is Mainstream In European Law: Study

Many European countries restrict abortion even earlier than 15 weeks.
Washington, UNITED STATES: Pro-life demonstrators (R) confront pro-choice counterparts (L) 23 January 2006 in Washington, DC, as tens of thousands of pro-life and pro-choice opponents rally marking the 33rd anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling on abortion. Abortion has been legal in the United States since the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade on 22 January 1973. AFP PHOTO/Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP via Getty Images)
KAREN BLEIER/AFP via Getty Images

Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban has been panned as extreme by abortion advocates and Democratic lawmakers, but the law would be considered mainstream in Europe, according to a new study.

Europe has much tighter restrictions on abortions in the second and third trimesters than the U.S. does, with 47 out of 50 European countries restricting elective abortions at or prior to 15 weeks into the pregnancy, according to a new study by the Charlotte Lozier Institute, the research arm of the Susan B. Anthony List.

Meanwhile, none of the 50 U.S. states is able to effectively ban elective abortions at 15 weeks. Mississippi’s 15-week ban has been met with legal challenges and has not gone into effect.

A total of 27 European nations, including Denmark, France, and Norway restrict elective abortion at 12 weeks. Five European countries including Germany and Belgium limit elective abortion at 14 weeks. Other nations such as Great Britain and Finland do not allow abortion on demand and require a woman to have some reason for obtaining the abortion, although that reason can be mental health in some places.

“Mississippi’s law brings the United States a small step closer both to European and global norms,” said the study’s author, Angelina B. Nguyen, J.D., an associate scholar at Charlotte Lozier Institute.

“No European nation allows elective abortion through all nine months of pregnancy, as is effectively permitted in several U.S. states, and America is one of only a small handful of nations, along with China and North Korea, to permit any sort of late-term elective abortion,” Nguyen said.

The Supreme Court this fall will consider Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case that will weigh Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban. Mississippi passed the law in 2018 with bipartisan support but it was promptly blocked by lower courts.

Last week, Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch urged the Supreme Court in a brief to overrule Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

In the brief, Fitch slammed Roe vs. Wade and other decisions including Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which reaffirmed Roe as “egregiously wrong.”

“They have inflicted profound damage,” Fitch wrote, adding that, “nothing but a full break from those cases can stem the harms they have caused.”

“The national fever on abortion can break only when this court returns abortion policy to the states — where agreement is more common, compromise is often possible and disagreement can be resolved at the ballot box,” Fitch wrote.

At least 10 states including Mississippi have so-called “trigger” laws restricting abortion that would go into effect should the Supreme Court ever overturn Roe. Mississippi’s “trigger” law would outlaw all abortions except in cases of rape and when the mother’s life is in danger.

In 2018, more than 619,500 abortions were performed in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data. Approximately 11 abortions were performed per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44 and about 189 abortions per 1,000 live births.

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