US District Judge Daniel P. Jordan issued a temporary injunction yesterday preventing implementation of a new Mississippi state law that could force closure of The Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Mississippi’s only abortion clinic. Judge Jordan scheduled a hearing for July 11 when he will determine if the order should be extended. The Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) law, scheduled to go into effect today, requires all doctors performing abortions in Mississippi clinics to be OB-GYNs with privileges to admit patients to a local hospital. Although all doctors at the Jackson Clinic are OB-GYNs, they have been refused admittance privileges to all hospitals within a 30 minute drive from the clinic.
If the law is allowed to go into effect, the closing of the Jackson clinic will force women needing abortions to drive three hours to the nearest clinic. Jackson Women’s Health Organization owner Diane Derzis, who has expressed her concern that women will seek abortions from “backstreet providers”, said “There is no question about it; some women are going to do whatever it takes. This doesn’t affect women with money so much, it is the women who are poor, with no resources that will suffer.”
The clinic filed a lawsuit with assistance from the Center for Reproductive Rights contending that the law is not medically necessary and is intended to close the clinic. As reported by the New York Times, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant stated while signing the bill that he wants the state to be “abortion-free.” Similar statements are included on the website of Lt. Governor Tate Reeve.
The Center for Reproductive Rights President Nancy Northup said in an interview with the Guardian, “While we are pleased the court has decided to temporarily block enforcement of this medically unwarranted restriction, this battle is far from over. We will continue to fight alongside the Jackson Women’s Health Organization to ensure that the women of Mississippi are not relegated to a second class of US citizens, denied the constitutionally-protected rights that other women nationwide are guaranteed.”
Media Resources: The Guardian 7/1/12; New York Times 7/1/12; Reuters 7/1/12; The Washington Post 7/1/12