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Jackson, Miss. • Mississippi's governor has signed into law a ban on a commonly used second-trimester abortion procedure, setting the state up for a possible legal challenge.
Gov. Phil Bryant signed the law Friday that outlaws a procedure called "dilation and evacuation" unless it is necessary to prevent a woman's irreversible physical impairment.
"We're making Mississippi the safest place in America for an unborn child," Bryant said in a statement posted on Twitter.
Groups that oppose restrictions on abortion say that the law could force physicians to use another method of abortion that could be riskier, take longer and be more painful to the woman.
"This bill is not based in medicine," Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement. "Governor Bryant just signed a clear attack on women's health care as part of a plan to ban abortion across the board. Planned Parenthood will continue to fight to protect the rights of our patients and their access to safe medical care, no matter what."
Diane Derzis, who owns Mississippi's lone abortion clinic, has said the Jackson Women's Health Organization does abortions up to 15 weeks' gestation, and doesn't typically use the procedure.
Abortion opponents have focused on banning the procedure, saying it's unnecessarily cruel.
"Dismemberment abortion, typically performed on a fully-formed, living unborn baby, is a barbaric and dangerous procedure in which the unborn child is literally ripped apart in the womb and pulled out in pieces," Barbara Whitehead of Mississippi Right to Life said in a statement.
State courts have blocked similar laws in Kansas and Oklahoma. West Virginia lawmakers overrode a governor's veto last month to pass a similar law.
Mississippi lawmakers are also negotiating over a bill that would cut off state Medicaid reimbursement to Planned Parenthood for family planning services. The group does not provide abortions in Mississippi and has received less than $1,000 from the state Medicaid program in each of the last five years.