United States District Judge Daniel P. Jordan III has extended his July 1 restraining order blocking implementation of Mississippi’s new abortion law. The law requires all doctors performing more than 10 abortions a month to have hospital admission privileges. The hospitals surrounding the abortion clinic in Jackson have not granted those privileges to the two out-of-state doctors working at the Jackson Women’s Health Organization clinic.
Judge Jordan has not set a date to hear arguments for issuing a permanent injunction against the law. Doing so will probably bring the case to trial.
The United States Supreme Court has said that states cannot impose substantial obstacles to women seeking abortions or place undue burdens on them. The law is, according to Republican Governor Phil Bryant, intended to make Mississippi “abortion free,” by imposing obstacles. Over 80% of abortions are performed in the first 13 weeks, when complications are extremely rare. In the worst case scenario, a patient could be transported to a hospital where the emergency room physicians would take over her care if the clinic doctors are not allowed to admit her, so the claim that the law protects patients is disingenuous. The defenders say they are trying to assure “continuity of care” for the patients, but the women who visit the clinic are not regular patients of these doctors. They will see them once, for this procedure. Continuity of care is not an issue.
Hospitals are reluctant to grant admission privileges to out-of-state doctors, and hospitals with religious affiliations would not grant them to doctors who perform abortions. Terri Herring of Pro-Life America Network claimed that “There’s no vetting process for fly-by-night physicians who come in and perform abortions at the clinic.” The clinic uses out-of-state physicians because local ones are afraid of being harassed or worse if they perform abortions. The clinic has a transfer agreement with a local OB-GYN in the event of complications, and he does have admission privileges at a local hospital, but in the past two years, not one patient has needed transfer to a hospital.
The Washington-based anti-abortion group Alliance Defending sent attorney Steven Aden to act as a consultant to the state on this case. The strongest evidence being offered by the clinic’s attorney that the law is an intentional effort to shut down the clinic is the statements during the bill signing last April by Gov. Phil Bryant, “If it closes that clinic, then so be it.” and his lieutenant governor, Tate Reeves, “We have an opportunity today with the signing of this bill to end abortion in Mississippi and also to protect women.”
Yup, Mississippi is really good at protecting women. That’s why they have the highest rate of teen pregnancy and unwed pregnancy in the nation. Roe v. Wade in 1973 established a woman’s right to an abortion, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992 upheld Roe v. Wade, but said that a state could regulate abortions, so long as no undue burden or substantial obstacle were created.