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Life is worth protecting

The law will be challenged. It will likely be deemed unconstitutional. But Gov. Phil Bryant, surrounded by supporters including Rep. Becky Currie of Brookhaven, signed one of the nation’s strongest abortion laws this week.

The new law bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually 6-8 weeks into a pregnancy.

The state House and Senate sent the bill to Bryant, despite a federal judge’s ruling last year that struck down a 15-week abortion ban.

Currie has been a strong advocate for abortion restrictions. Her bill last year prohibited abortion after the 15-week mark.

Critics have argued that the state can’t afford to defend a law that will likely be found unconstitutional. Currie is not worried about the cost.

“Last year on the 15-week bill we had top-notch legal firms from around the country ask us to let them defend this for free. They, unlike a staff attorney, have expertise in moving things through the Supreme Court and this is what they live for. So the cost is not an issue, it is about saving lives,” she said. 

Mississippi is often known for being the worst — or close to it — in most categories. But it will now be known as the state that seeks to protect the life of the unborn. For some, that line will be turned into something else. Mississippi will be seen as a state that most restricts the rights of women and it will be one more thing to add to the state’s list of “worsts.” But I don’t see it that way.

This law places Mississippi on a very short list of states that are working to protect unborn life. See New York as Mississippi’s polar opposite on this issue.

I won’t pretend that Mississippi gets much else right when it comes protecting life. The criminal justice system is broken. The state’s children’s protective services system is, too. Racial inequality continues to plague us. Mississippi has a long way to go to claim that it cares and protects all life. But on this singular issue, it can.

In a segment on public radio, the interviewer asked a supporter of the law if women should be forced to carry a pregnancy to term when it is not in the mother’s emotional or financial best interest. I’ve hard some in the media defend abortion using arguments about over-population and poverty, as if it is better for a child not to exist than to grow up poor. 

The line of questioning reveals a bias that many in the media struggle to hide. They pre-suppose that a woman should be allowed to choose an abortion, and anyone with a different point of view is seen as ignorant or repressive or old-fashioned.

It’s why the vast majority of news coverage of abortion laws paints pro-lifers as religious zealots who are so blinded by their faith that they can’t see the light of a modern, progressive society.

There is a belief that humans, with all of our vast knowledge and science, should have moved beyond adherence to those values which have guided us for centuries. In fact, it should be the opposite. Modern science has shown us what they could only imagine centuries ago — that the baby growing inside any mother is human, even at 6 weeks.

And if it is one of us, it deserves a chance at life. Not just because a religion says so, but because as a society we should value, protect and promote life — even when it is not in the mother’s emotional or financial best interest.

Email publisher Luke Horton at luke.horton@dailyleader.com