By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal Jackson Bureau
JACKSON – House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, said he expects a provision of a recently passed bill that could require women to undergo an invasive transvaginal ultrasound before having an abortion will receive additional scrutiny.
“I know it is a controversial part of the bill. I think that is something that is probably going to be looked at as the bill continues to move through the process,” Gunn said.
Gunn, the first-year speaker, made his comments during a luncheon meeting of the Mississippi State University Stennis Institute of Government/Capitol press corps luncheon.
In other states, bills requiring the transvaginal ultrasound have been described as “state-sanctioned rape” by opponents while others have countered that it is far less invasive than an actual abortion.
The bill says if a heartbeat of a fetus is detected, no abortion could be performed, though under current court rulings that prohibition would be considered unconstitutional.
The bill gives the state Board of Health the authority to develop rules on how the heartbeat would be detected. Both sides have conceded the only way to detect the heartbeat before the fifth or sixth week of a pregnancy is through the invasive procedure.
The bill passed the House last week and now goes to the Senate.
Despite consternation over the bill and others, and some personal clashes caused in part, Gunn said, by miscommunication, the House at the end of the week was focused on debating the issues. He said he met with Democratic leaders and resolved the personality conflicts, and then “there was good debate, open debate.”