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Thursday 22nd August 2019

Mississippi abortion clinic battles closure

2nd July 2012

A Mississippi federal judge has issued a temporary restraining order on a law that would force the closure of the state's only abortion clinic.


The law, which was to have taken effect this week, requires doctors who perform abortions at the clinic to have admitting privileges at a local hospital, which is in effect a hard condition for them to satisfy.

The order came after a challenge from the Jackson Women's Health Organisation, which says it is an attempt to overturn the constitutional right of women to determine their own reproductive life, as established in the landmark Roe vs Wade ruling.

The group said the law is aimed at making Mississippi the only state without an abortion clinic, the stated aim of its governor, Phil Bryant.

US District Court Judge Daniel Jordan said the group had offered evidence that the law was aimed at eliminating abortions in Mississippi, and had provided quotes from "significant legislative and executive officers" to back up its argument.

Judge Jordan said the group had also submitted evidence suggesting that the act was not motivated by either safety or health concerns, and that the evidence had yet to be rebutted.

According to the law, which entered the statutes in April, all doctors performing abortions at a Mississippi clinic must be certified in obstetrics and gynaecology, and must also have been granted admitting privileges at a local hospital.

Bryant's spokesman said the judge's decision was "disappointing," and that the state government would continue to work to ensure it took effect.

The Jackson Women's Health Organisation, which runs the clinic, has also challenged the law as unconstitutional, because it would effectively ban abortions in Mississippi.

Doctors at the Jackson health clinic already are certified in obstetrics and gynecology, but say they are now seeking more time - they would have 30 days if it had come into effect - to comply with the law.

They say they have repeatedly tried, and failed, to obtain privileges at six hospitals within a 30-minute drive of the clinic, since early May.

According to Republican state Representative Sam Mims, the purpose of the law is to protect women.

But the owner of the clinic said it was a political strategy to ban abortion without having to mount a legal challenge to Roe vs Wade.

The state health department confirmed it had called off a planned compliance check at the clinic on Monday.

State lawyers have argued that the clinic has an ample set of appeal opportunities, but the clinic's lawyers say doctors there would be putting themselves at professional risk, if they continued to provide abortion services in the absence of an injunction.

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