Mississippi Abortion Laws

Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors.

Note: While Mississippi passed a new law in 2019 restricting abortions, it has been blocked by a federal judge and is subject to further judicial review in state or federal courts. The courts can further delay implementation of the law during the period of judicial review and can ultimately overturn the law if it's found to be unconstitutional.

Decided in 1973, Roe v. Wade was a Supreme Court case that guaranteed women a Constitutional right to choose whether to end a pregnancy during the first trimester, effectively making abortion legal in the United States. With that being said, states are permitted to regulate certain aspects of abortion, and some, like Mississippi, have done so heavily.

Mississippi's abortion laws are possibly the most restrictive in the United States, with extensive pre-abortion requirements. State statutes require notification of both parents prior to an abortion (when the pregnant woman is a minor) as well as a 24-hour waiting period before the procedure can be performed. During this waiting period, a woman must also certify that she has received counseling and a notification of services, as well as consent to mandatory fetal ultrasound and fetal heart tone procedures.

Mississippi's "Fetal Heartbeat" Law

In March 2019, Mississippi's governor signed a bill banning abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which occurs at about six weeks. Under this law, after detection of a fetal heartbeat, women would only be able to get an abortion to save their life. Doctors performing an abortion that isn't in compliance with this law would face up to six months in jail. This law was temporarily blocked by a federal judge in May 2019 and remains subject to judicial review.

Mississippi Abortion Laws: The Basics

An overview of abortion laws in Mississippi as well as links to relevant statutes are provided in the table below. Please remember that while reading an overview is incredibly helpful, it's important to also read the actual statutes to understand the details of the law.

Statute(s)

Mississippi Code, Title 41, Chapter 41:

  • Sections 41-41-31 to 41-41-73 (Surgical or Medical Procedures - Abortions);
  • Section 41-41-131, et seq. (Women's Health Protection and Preborn Pain Act)

Mississippi Code, Title 41, Chapter 75:

  • Section 41-75-1, et. seq. (Ambulatory Surgical Facilities)

Mississippi Code, Title 97, Chapter 3:

  • Section 97-3-3 (Exceptions to Abortion Crimes)
  • Section 97-3-4 (Allowing a Child Delivered in a Failed Abortion to Die)
  • Section 97-3-5 (Helping to Obtain Abortion)

Definition of Legal Abortion

An abortion is legal in Mississippi as long as the abortion is performed before 20 weeks of pregnancy. For exceptions, please see Section 41-41-141.

Statutory Definition of Illegal Abortion

Willfully or knowingly by means of instrument, medicine, drug, or any other substance causing any pregnant woman to abort or miscarry, unless it's performed by a licensed physician and done to save the mother's life* or when the pregnancy was the result of a rape**.

*For this exception to apply, prior written advice of two licensed physicians is necessary.

**For this exception to apply, a formal rape charge must have been filed with the police.

Charges and Penalties for Unlawful Abortion

Performing an illegal abortion carries a penalty for one to ten years in state prison; however, if the mother dies, then the person will be charged with murder. Additionally, the license of any nurse or physician will be automatically revoked.

Consent Requirements

Written informed consent of the mother at least 24 hours before the abortion, except in emergency; unmarried woman under 18 must have written consent of both parents, with exceptions for medical emergency or judicial waiver.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Mississippi Abortion Laws: Related Resources

You can find more resources and information on this topic by visiting the FindLaw sections listed below.

Learn More About Mississippi Abortion Laws from a Local Attorney

Decisions regarding abortion and reproductive health can have serious emotional and legal consequences. That's why it's important to understand the laws of your state and how they can affect you and your loved ones. Consider speaking with a health care attorney in Mississippi if you have questions or need legal assistance.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.