Mississippi’s Last Abortion Clinic Hangs In The Balance
With increasing regulations in Mississippi, the state is poised to become the first without a single open abortion clinic.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans will begin hearing arguments Monday over a state law that requires an abortion clinic in Mississippi to have hospital admitting privileges.
The last clinic in the state, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, has operated for nearly 20 years.
"We're hoping and we're praying this thing closes," Pastor David Lane of Pro-Life Mississippi told NPR outside the Jackson clinic. "Mississippi will be first in something that's good anyway, and that is no free-standing abortion mills. That's what we're after."
There are only two doctors providing abortion care and they fly in from out of state. So far, hospitals have not agreed to give them admitting privileges.
Chicago board-certified OB-GYN Willie Parker says he’s not been able to secure admitting privileges from 13 regional hospitals he has applied to.
"Some we received no response from, but the ones that we did, they made reference to the fact that because the care we provide is related to abortion, they felt it might be disruptive to the internal politics, as well as the external politics, for the hospital," Parker said.
Parker is the plaintiff in the lawsuit challenging the state law.
He accused the Mississippi legislature of making abortion "so cumbersome as to be impractical even when it remains legal."
"Under the Supreme Court's rulings, this law would definitely constitute what's called an 'undue burden' because it would really block women's access to safe, legal abortion throughout the state of Mississippi," said Bebe Anderson of the Center for Reproductive Rights. "Therefore it's unconstitutional."
Terri Herring, the director of the Pro Life America Network who helped write the legislation, believes it can withstand legal scrutiny.
"I think it's going to be hard for the court to decide that because Mississippi has one abortion clinic that it should be allowed to be unsafe," Herring says.
According to NPR, the New Orleans appellate court has upheld a similar abortion law passed in Texas.