If you are reading this page, you’re probably already aware that our clinic could possibly be closed at any time and without warning.
Our clinic’s fate and the fate of the women needing our abortion services now lie in the hands of a court.
Justice may not prevail from the 5th Circuit. If we are given a negative ruling we will be forced to close our doors immediately.
At this time we are fighting the good fight in the court system. If the court system fails us, we will need the support of the country.
If you would like to send the incredibly brave staff, doctors, and women of Mississippi a message of encouragement, please write something below.
If you would like to contribute financially to our struggle to stay open and our struggle to make sure the women of Mississippi get the safe abortion care they need, feel free to use the paypal button below.
Just knowing we aren’t alone keeps us going. One day at a time.
Please check back with this site as we will be giving out regular updates on what is happening with the clinic, how the court rules, and how we handle everything from there.
Here is a recent summary of what is happening:
MISSISSIPPI APPEALS ABORTION RULING SO ITS ONE REMAINING CLINIC CAN SHUT DOWN
Win McNamee/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Mississippi has one abortion clinic — a bright pink house flanked by anti-abortion protesters and “This Clinic Stays Open” banners. For the last two years, the clinic, Jackson Women’s Health Organization, has been in danger of closing due to an admitting privileges law. Although the clinic won a major legal victory in July, it looks like the battle over Mississippi’s last standing abortion clinic isn’t over yet: Attorney General Jim Hood wants to reverse the federal appeals court ruling striking down Mississippi’s abortion law. In doing so, the state once again puts the clinic — and its patients — in jeopardy.
Hood reportedly filed a petition on Wednesday requesting the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider its ruling, issued in late July, so that Mississippi can enforce the admitting privileges law. The law, passed in 2012, requires doctors at Jackson Women’s Health Organization to be board-certified and have admitting privileges at a local hospital. However, the clinic’s physicians were denied admitting privileges at seven local hospitals.
Because Jackson Women’s Health Organization would have been forced to close, the appeals court struck down the law. Without an abortion clinic in Mississippi, the law would place an “undue burden” on a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion, the appeals court panel said.
Defendants of the law argued that Mississippi women could travel to nearby states, such as Louisiana or Tennessee, if they needed an abortion. But the 5th Circuit panel didn’t buy that argument:
[We] hold that Mississippi may not shift its obligation to respect the established constitutional rights of its citizens to another state. Such a proposal would not only place an undue burden on the exercise of the constitutional right, but would also disregard a state’s obligation under the principle of federalism — applicable to all fifty states — to accept the burden of the non-delegable duty of protecting the established federal constitutional rights of its own citizens.
When the appeals court panel handed down the ruling last month, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, a passionate supporter of the law, released a statement expressing dismay with the court.
I am disappointed that two judges concluded that HB 1390 is unconstitutional. This measure is designed to protect the health and safety of women who undergo this potentially dangerous procedure, and physicians who provide abortions should be held to the same standards as physicians who perform other outpatient procedures.
Bryant added that because the case was heard by a panel of judges and not the full circuit court, he and Hood would be taking legal action to address “the entire court.” In Wednesday’s filing, Hood stated that a separate panel of 5th Circuit judges upheld a similar admitting privileges law in Texas, and so the appeals court contradicted itself. The Associated Press reported it’s uncertain when the court would consider taking on the Mississippi case again.
Mississippi isn’t the only state to get entangled in a legal battle over an admitting privileges law, which is largely known as a TRAP law meant to limit access to abortion rather than improve women’s health care. Just last week, a U.S. judge struck down Alabama’s admitting privileges law, also claiming it placed an “undue burden” on women seeking abortions. In his opinion, Judge Myron Thompson wrote that there was “exceedingly weak” evidence that the admitting privileges law, which would have closed three out of five Alabama abortion clinics, was necessary for the patients’ safety.
Images: Getty Images (2)
Mississippi Could Soon Shut Down Its Only Abortion Clinic
An Appeals Court will consider a state law Monday that would close the state’s last remaining clinic.
Mississippi could soon become the first state in the nation without a single abortion provider.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit is set to hear oral arguments next week regarding a 2012 law that would force the only remaining clinic in the state to close immediately.
The legislation is part of a recent wave of antiabortion regulations that have shuttered large numbers of providers in several states. However, the situation in Mississippi is arguably the most extreme, as the state has only one facility offering legal abortions.
The Mississippi law would require all physicians in health centers that perform more than 10 abortions a year to be certified in obstetrics and gynecology and have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.
The law was passed in April 2012 but is not currently being implemented while a challenge continues in the courts. A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction in 2013, saying the law was likely unconstitutional because it would close the lone remaining clinic. The state appealed the decision, sending the case to the 5th Circuit.
Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the one clinic that offers legal abortions in the state, has two providers, neither of which has admitting privileges. Clinic owner Diane Derzis said the facility sees 2,200 women for abortions each year.
The clinic tried to obtain admitting privileges for the doctors after the law was passed, but no hospital would accept them, according to Derzis. “We applied to every hospital—eight to 10 of them,” she said. “The Catholic hospital turned us down immediately. The rest took a while, but turned us down without looking at the physicians. 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.”
Republican Gov. Phil Bryant has been straightforward with his intention in signing the law, saying he wants to “make Mississippi abortion-free.” Other supporters of the law argue that the regulations are meant to protect women’s health, but opponents say the law works against women’s safety, and they point to Bryant’s statement as evidence the motivation is political and ideological.
Mississippi had the highest teen birth rate in the nation in 2010 and the second highest in 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The state saw 50.2 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 19, five-tenths of a point behind Arkansas.
Advocates remain uncertain how the 5th Circuit will rule. The court is the same one that upheld the Texas law that is set to close all but six abortion clinics in the state by September, and defended the decision by saying that driving longer distances for the services did not qualify as an “undue burden” for women seeking abortion services.
It’s possible, though, that the judges would be more hesitant in Mississippi, since JWHO is the last provider. If the clinic were to close, women would need to travel to surrounding states like Louisiana or Alabama, both of which are also debating laws that would limit abortion clinics.
Derzis said she intends to “fight to the end” if the 5th Circuit gives her an unfavorable ruling, and would immediately appeal the decision. But without the ability to provide abortions, the clinic would be in trouble because the other services it offers—birth control, pregnancy tests, and more—are not enough financially to keep the clinic open.
The court will consider the state’s appeal Monday, and a decision could come within a few weeks or months. If the judges uphold the lower court’s decision, the law will continue to be put on hold while the case moves forward; if they strike it down, the law will go into effect immediately.
In the meantime, patients are preparing for the worst. “An administrator called to tell me 45 patients showed up [at the clinic] for abortions today,” Derzis said. “They’re not willing to take the risk that they may not be able to be seen next week.”