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GOP War on Women: Mississippi Could Soon Lose its Only Abortion Clinic

by: Bob Cull

Jackson Women’s Health, the only clinic in the state of Mississippi providing abortion services to the women of the state, has won the latest round in its two year battle with the state’s conservative legislature and governor to stay open, but only temporarily, while a federal judge blocks implementation of a new law.

In 2012 governor Phil Bryant (R) signed into law a bill which required that doctors associated with the clinic must have admitting privileges at the local hospital. Since the two doctors on staff at the clinic live out-of-state, they are unable to obtain admitting privileges.

The owner of the clinic, Diane Derzis, said that she had applied to every hospital in the area. As expected, the Catholic hospitals turned them down immediately, and while the others took some time to do so, they eventually all said no as well.

“They put in writing that they were unable to handle the public press from this; they were upfront about it. It’s clear the politics prevailed with this whole thing,” she said.

When the clinic took the case to court shortly after the law went into effect in the summer of 2012. They argued that the law was a thinly veiled attempt to outlaw abortion in the state by the Republican controlled legislature and governor Bryant, who has said that his goal is to “make Mississippi abortion-free.”

At that time Judge Daniel P. Jordan III said that he would prefer to wait and see how the situation played out bureaucratically before intervening.  On Monday, after the clinic had failed to secure the required admitting privileges, he temporarily blocked the portion of the law that would have resulted in a revocation of the clinic’s license to operate in the state next week.

“Closing its doors would — as the state seems to concede in this argument — force Mississippi women to leave Mississippi to obtain a legal abortion,” the Judge wrote in his opinion, adding that the law “would result in a patchwork system where constitutional rights are available in some states but not others.”