| By Billy Davis
Panola County legislators in the state House of Representatives voted in favor of an anti-abortion bill last week that passed overwhelmingly.
Senate Bill 2922 passed 94-25 in the House and now heads back to the state Senate. Gov. Haley Barbour has said he will sign the bill into law if it reaches his desk.
An "aye" vote from Rep. Leonard Morris joined Rep. Warner McBride, who told The Panolian last week that he supported the legislation.
On Friday, Morris said debate on the House floor lasted more than two hours Thursday as legislators argued over an amendment that would allow abortion in a case of rape or incest, or if the mother’s life is in danger.
The exemption passed in the final version of the bill, The Clarion-Ledger newspaper reported last Friday.
McBride said during House debate that the rape and incest allowance was a necessary part of the bill, the newspaper reported.
"I don’t think it’s the place of the state of Mississippi to tell one of these young girls who may be raped that they can’t deal with that," McBride was quoted as saying, referring to female pages who were present in the House chamber.
"I would say that it’s between them and their Lord," McBride added.
Reached Friday, McBride said the Jackson newspaper quoted him correctly.
"My position is I do consider myself to be pro-life but at the same time I think we do have to protect the life of a mother and need exclusions in the case of rape and incest," McBride told The Panolian.
Margie Casey, executive director of Panola County’s pro-life Sav-a-Life organization, said Friday she was aware of the bill but was unaware that it had passed Friday.
"I think it’s a long time coming," Casey said. "I think it’s very exciting."
Asked about the abortion bill, Sen. Nolan Mettetal said he is hesitant to discuss a bill he hasn’t seen since the language can change quickly.
"I’m pro-life period. My record shows that," Mettetal said. "But I’m not going to say there aren’t instances like (rape and incest) in which you have to weigh that affect on a mother."
The state of Mississippi has one abortion clinic, located in Jackson.
The abortion bill has made national headlines, coming just weeks after South Dakota legislators passed a similar bill that will likely wind its way through the courts. A Mississippi law would likely have that same fate.