Every individual has the right to an abortion in the United States, regardless of their circumstances, and abortion is legal in Mississippi. However, Mississippi has some of the most aggressive restrictions on abortion in our country, which makes access to abortion difficult in particular for people of color and low-income people.
Is abortion legal in Mississippi?
- Abortion is legal in Mississippi. Your ability to access an abortion in Mississippi, however, is restricted by a number of laws Mississippi has passed over several decades.
What laws impact my ability to access abortion in Mississippi?
- Abortion is available in Mississippi at Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the only licensed abortion facility in the state. The clinic provides medication abortion and abortion procedures up to 16 weeks of pregnancy.
- Mississippi requires you to make two in-person trips to the clinic, separated by at least 24 hours. See Miss. Code Ann. §§ 41-41-33, 41-41-107. At the first visit, Mississippi requires the clinic to give you certain information including about a link between abortion and breast cancer, which is false. The second visit, at which you can obtain a medication abortion or an abortion procedure, must be at least 24 hours later.
- Mississippi bans an abortion procedure commonly used after approximately 16 weeks, Miss. Code Ann. § 41-41-155, and bans abortion after 20 weeks except where there is a medical emergency or a fatal fetal anomaly. Miss. Code Ann. § 41-41-137, -141. Mississippi also prohibits abortions that are sought because of the fetus’s race, sex, or “genetic abnormality.” Life Equality Act of 2020, H.B. 1295. These bans are unconstitutional but have not been challenged in court and are currently in effect.
- Mississippi has also enacted bans on abortion after 6 and 15 weeks—but neither ban is in effect due to court orders finding such bans unconstitutional.
What if I am under 18 years old?
- An unemancipated minor (i.e. an unmarried person less than 18 years old who has not been emancipated through the courts) typically needs written consent from both parents or their legal guardian in order to get an abortion.
- If (1) the parents are separated or divorced, (2) one of the parents cannot be available in a timely manner, or (3) the pregnancy was caused by the minor's father, the law only requires the written consent of the primary parent, available parent, or mother, respectively. Miss. Code Ann. § 41-41-53.
- To have these consent requirements waived, the minor can petition the chancery court in their county of residence or the county where the abortion is being performed. Miss. Code Ann. § 41-41-53. They have the right to a court-appointed lawyer and do not have to pay any filing fees. The court must waive the parental consent requirement if it finds that either (1) the minor is mature and well-informed enough to make this decision or (2) the abortion is in the minor's best interest; if there’s no ruling after 72 hours, the consent requirement is automatically waived. Miss. Code Ann. § 41-41-55.
- The rules and procedures for an unemancipated minor to get consent for an abortion don't apply if there's a medical emergency that so complicates the pregnancy that an immediate abortion is necessary. Miss. Code Ann. §41-41-57.
What if I am an undocumented immigrant?
- Every person in the United States has due process rights—including the right to an abortion—regardless of citizenship status. Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202, 210 (1982). However, access can be challenging in some places if the person lacks identification or has to cross a border checkpoint.
What if I am currently incarcerated or in immigration detention?
- Incarcerated individuals, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees, have a right to abortion. Victoria W. v. Larpenter, 369 F.3d 475 (2004); U.S. Immigration & Customs Enf't, Performance-Based National Detention Standards 2011 (rev. 2016). In addition to the barriers imposed by state law, however, accessing abortion can be even more challenging for these individuals.
- To obtain an abortion in Mississippi, undocumented minors must comply with Mississippi law that requires parental consent. As with documented minors, if parental consent cannot be obtained, or the minor does not wish to involve their parents, a state court can waive the requirement.
- The ACLU is currently litigating cases that involve unaccompanied minors in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). Mississippi does not currently have an ORR facility, so these rules are not applicable here. If you would like additional information about unaccompanied minors in ORR custody, go to the ACLU of the District Columbia’s website.
What if I’m a member of the LGBTQ+ community?
- Every person in the United States, regardless of their sexuality and gender identity, has the same right to abortion.
- In general, health-care providers may refuse to conduct an abortion for reasons of conscience. However, if you’re denied an abortion on these grounds, your provider must help you transfer to someone who is willing to perform the abortion. Miss. Code Ann. § 41-41-215.
- Mississippi also has a “trigger ban,” which could become effective within 10 days if the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, that would ban all abortions except when the pregnancy is the result of a rape for which a formal charge was filed with the police. Miss. Code Ann. § 41-41-45. This law is not in effect, as Roe v. Wade remains good law in the United States.
Do I have to pay out of pocket?
- Whether or not your insurance will cover the cost of your abortion depends on your insurer. Insurance policies offered through the state health insurance exchange are prohibited from covering abortion. Miss. Code Ann. § 41-41-97. Further, for Mississippians, no public funds (including Medicaid and government insurance for public employees) may be used for an abortion except when (1) the abortion is medically necessary to prevent the mother's death, (2) the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, or (3) there's a fetal malformation that is incompatible with life outside the womb. Miss. Code Ann. § 41-41-91.
- Keep in mind that the rules around abortion in the United States—including in Mississippi—are frequently changing. We’re watching these and other abortion-related laws closely and will update this page to reflect any developments.
- Jackson Women’s Health Organization (“the Pink House”).
- This is currently Mississippi’s only licensed abortion clinic. They offer abortion services up to 16 weeks and can connect patients to financial assistance.
- The Pink House Fund
- This organization accepts donations to assist patients pay for abortion care at the last clinic in Mississippi.
- SHERo Mississippi
- This group of on the ground organizers is dedicated to building and promoting leadership among Black women and girls.
- National Abortion Federation
- Here you can access financial support as well as referrals for abortion providers outside of Mississippi.
- Center for Reproductive Rights
- They represent Jackson Women’s Health Organization in court challenges to abortion restrictions. They will have up to date information about the legal status of abortion restrictions in Mississippi.
- Jane’s Due Process
- They help minors with judicial bypass in Texas and can refer minors in other states to resources in their state.
- ARC Southeast
- They provide resources to individuals seeking reproductive health care, including abortion, in Mississippi and other southern states. Resources include financial and logistical support.
- Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund
- They provide funding and other resources to Mississippians for abortion and other reproductive health and family needs.
The fight for safe and legal abortion is constant in Mississippi. This means when oppressive laws are not actively moving through our Legislature or argued in the courts, there are still individuals who every day seek this important form of healthcare at Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
As the only clinic in Mississippi that provides abortion services, the clinic is an enormous target for anti-abortion protesters. Their presence threatens the safety and privacy of the patients as they try to access care. The Pinkhouse Defenders is a group of volunteers who defend abortion rights by dedicating their time escorting patients to safety at Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
Now is your time to take action! The Pinkhouse Defenders, which is supported by We Engage, is welcoming new volunteer escorts. If you are in the Jackson Metro area and have weekday availability, we encourage you to join this group of advocates working to ensure individuals can access the healthcare they seek without harassment or harm! Send an email to email@example.com for more information on patient escorting opportunities.
ACLU-MS fully supports the Pinkhouse Defenders’ priorities – patient comfort and safety.