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Mississippi

Biased Counseling & Mandatory Delay

A woman may not obtain an abortion until at least 24 hours after the attending or referring physician orally and in person:  (1) informs her of the probable gestational age of the "unborn child"; (2) describes the medical risks associated with the procedure, including, when medically accurate, infection, hemorrhage, breast cancer, danger to subsequent pregnancies, and infertility; (3) describes the risks of carrying the pregnancy to term; and (4) tells her the name of the physician who will provide the abortion.

In addition, at least 24 hours prior to an abortion, the woman must receive a state-mandated lecture by the physician or physician's agent, in person, that must include:  (1) that medical assistance benefits may be available for prenatal care, childbirth, and neonatal care; (2) that the "father" is liable for child support even if he has offered to pay for the abortion; and (3) that she has a right to review state-prepared materials that describe the "unborn child" and list agencies that offer alternatives to abortion.

The state-prepared materials must:  (1) describe with color pictures the anatomical and physiological characteristics of the fetus at two-week gestational increments, including the possibility of survival; (2) describe the medical risks associated with the procedure and with carrying a pregnancy to term; (3) state that medical assistance benefits may be available for prenatal care, childbirth, and neonatal care and that the "father" is liable for child support even if he has offered to pay for an abortion; and (4) provide a comprehensive list of public and private agencies and services, including adoption agencies, available to assist the woman through pregnancy, upon childbirth, and while the child is dependent or provide a toll-free 24-hour hotline that can be called to obtain such a list.

Miss. Code Ann. §§ 41-41-33, -35 (Enacted 1991; Last Amended 1996).

The state-prepared materials include enlarged color photographs of fetuses.  Division Of Health Facilities Licensure & Certification, Miss. State Dep't Of Health, Informed Consent Information And Resources (Rev. Aug. 1996).

Both a federal and a state court upheld a previous version of this law under the federal and state constitutions.  Barnes v. Moore, 970 F.2d 12 (5th Cir. 1992), cert. denied, 506 U.S. 1021 (1992); Pro-Choice Miss. v. Fordice, 716 So.2d 645 (Miss. 1998).

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