Society

Court Strikes Down Mississippi Abortion Providers Law

| by Zach Cohen

A Mississippi law that would have banned abortion providers from participating in the state's Medicaid program was struck down by a federal judge on Oct. 20.

"Essentially every court to consider similar laws has found that they violate" federal law, U.S. District Judge Daniel Jordan III's ruling notes, reports Reuters. The ruling made specific mention of a similar Louisiana law that was recently struck down.

In August, a federal judge struck down an Ohio law that would have stripped Ohio's 28 Planned Parenthood clinics of their federal funding.

Planned Parenthood, which filed suit against the Mississippi law over the summer, applauded the ruling in a statement from the organization's president, Cecile Richards. "Yet another court has said it is unacceptable for politicians to dictate where women can go for their health care."

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Mississippi's Republican Gov. Phil Bryant, who signed the law into effect in July, said he was "obviously disappointed with the ruling," The Associated Press reports.

Bryant said in a statement, "I continue to stand with the Legislature and the people of Mississippi who do not want their hard earned money going to the largest abortion provider in the nation."

There are two Planned Parenthood facilities in Mississippi, reports Daily Kos. Only one of them, in Jackson, provides abortions, but both would have been affected by the law in question. 

The Jackson facility has been the only abortion provider in the state since 2006.

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Mississippi's other Planned Parenthood facility, in Hattiesburg, received only $439 in state funding between 2013 and 2015.

The Mississippi legislature tried to shut down the Jackson clinic by requiring that the clinic's doctors obtain "admitting privileges" to hospitals, which refused all requests for such privileges. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down admitting privilege requirements in the summer of 2016 in a ruling on a similar Texas law. 

According to Planned Parenthood's website, federal funds cannot pay for abortion procedures, due to a law called the Hyde Amendment, which has been in effect since 1976. The Mississippi law targeted abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood, that may also provide health services for women, such as breast cancer screenings, Pap smears and STD treatments.

Abortions make up only 3 percent of Planned Parenthood's health services.

Sources: Reuters, AP via StarTribune, Daily Kos, Planned Parenthood (2) / Photo credit: Lorie Shaull/Flickr

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