A law that was due to go into effect on Monday, resulting in the closure of the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the last remaining abortion clinic in the State of Mississippi, could not be implemented when a federal judge Daniel P. Jordan on Sunday night temporarily blocked the State of Mississippi from closing it.
Supporters of the clinic had asked the judge to intervene, when they realized that the new law would certainly see the end of the last existing clinic.
Judge Jordon, set a July 11 hearing, to determine the duration of the time, for blocking the new law. In his decision he wrote, “Though the debate over abortion continues, there exists legal precedent the court must follow.”
Those who opposed the law said that women who wanted an abortion would have to drive hundreds of miles to get it. It’s about a 200-mile drive to the nearest abortion clinics near Mississippi.
However, it was strongly backed by Gov. Phil Bryant, who has never concealed his ardent desire to see his state “abortion-free.” Gov. Bryant said that he would forcefully defend the measure, saying that “this basic requirement goes both to the heart of women’s health care and protecting the lives of unborn children.”
Judge Jordon’s injunction was widely praised by the supporters of abortion rights, “Today’s decision reaffirms the fundamental constitutional rights of women in Mississippi and ensures the Jackson Women’s Health Organization can continue providing the critical reproductive health care that they have offered to women for the last 17 years,” said Nancy Northup, president and chief executive of the Center for Reproductive Rights, a New York group that helped file the suit on the clinic’s behalf.
“The opponents of reproductive rights in the Mississippi Legislature have made no secret of their intent to make legal abortion virtually disappear in the state of Mississippi. Their hostility toward women, reproductive health care providers and the rights of both would unquestionably put the lives and health of countless women at risk of grave harm,” she added.
The law had made it mandatory for anyone performing abortions at the state’s last remaining abortion clinic, to be an OB-GYN with privileges to admit patients to a local hospital.
The clinic says that since these regulations are hard to meet, they feel that they have been put there to put it out of business. However, Betty Thompson, a spokeswoman for the clinic said that the two physicians who do abortions there are OB-GYNs who travel from other states.
The clinic, Jackson Women’s Health Organization, in an attempt to block the law, filed a lawsuit alleging that it was a strategy designed to put them out of business, as the admitting privileges requirement is not medically obligatory.
Lawmakers however, refuted the allegations saying that that they were concerned about the health of the women and the laws were made to ensure that, in the event of complications during abortions, they were taken care of properly.
Every other state in the country has abortion clinics. If Jackson Women’s Health Organization shuts down, Mississippi will have the distinction of being the only state without an abortion clinic.
In the order, Jordan wrote: “Plaintiffs have offered evidence — including quotes from significant legislative and executive officers — that the Act’s purpose is to eliminate abortions in Mississippi. They likewise submitted evidence that no safety or health concerns motivated its passage. This evidence has not yet been rebutted.”
Jordan also wrote that Jackson Women’s Health Organization is “the only regular provider of abortions in Mississippi, and as of the Act’s effective date, JWHO cannot comply with its requirements.”
However, if the law is eventually upheld, Nancy Northup said that Mississippi physicians who perform fewer than 10 abortions a month can avoid having their offices regulated as an abortion clinic, and thus avoid restrictions in the new law.