Reproductive Rights

Mississippi Attorney General Pushes to Close the State’s Last Clinic

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood is asking the full US Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to reverse a panel decision that upheld a preliminary injunction of Mississippi’s TRAP law, allowing the state’s only abortion clinic to remain open.

Pal Teravagimov /
Pal Teravagimov /

Just weeks ago, a panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a preliminary injunction barring implementation of HB 1390, Mississippi’s 2012 TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) law that requires doctors to gain admitting privileges from an area hospital. Because HB 1390 would have effectively shut down the Jackson Women’s Health Organization (JWHO), the last abortion clinic in the state, the Court ruled that the law placed an “undue burden on the exercise of the constitutional right” of an individual to choose an abortion.

“Mississippi may not shift its obligation to respect the established constitutional rights of its citizens to another state.” the Fifth Circuit panel said. “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.”

The state of Mississippi, however, argues that this rationale is misplaced in the context of abortion. Hood is formally asking the entire Fifth Circuit Court – which handles cases in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas – to reverse the panel’s decision and allow the state to enforce HB 1390, arguing that the court’s decision contradicts a ruling issued by a different panel of Fifth Circuit judges in Texas. There, a three-judge panel upheld hospital admitting privileges, noting that despite the fact that the law made abortion inaccessible to some women in the state, abortion services were not completely cut off in Texas because of the admitting privileges requirement. The opposite, however, would be true in Mississippi under HB 1390.

Mississippi filed its request on Wednesday, just as a federal district court heard closing arguments in a second challenge to Texas’s admitting privileges requirement.

Media Resources:  Feminist Newswire 7/30/14, 3/28/14;  ABC News/AP 8/13/14; RH Reality Check 8/14/14, 8/13/14; US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

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