Mississippi’s Last Clinic Struggles to Stay Open
This month, reproductive rights advocates celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, which made it clear that the right to privacy provides women with the ability to make their own choices about reproductive health, including the choice to have an abortion. Despite the Supreme Court’s decision, many state lawmakers and anti-choice groups have been working tirelessly for years to limit the ability for women in their states to have safe abortions.
Unfortunately for women in Mississippi, the right to have an abortion may be arbitrarily limited by state law in the near future. During their 2012 legislative session, Mississippi lawmakers passed a bill requiring all OB-GYNs who perform abortions to have admitting rights at local hospitals.
Currently, Mississippi has only one operating abortion clinic, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which is scheduled to close in early March due to non-compliance with the law. However, in a last ditch effort to save the clinic, attorneys have filed for an injunction against enforcement of the law based on the argument that they are unable to comply due to the refusal of many local hospitals to consider the clinic’s applications for admitting rights.
If the clinic is shut down, Mississippi will be the first state to have a de facto ban on abortion.
“Our greatest fear, is that this will put us in a pre-Roe status with women using dangerous solutions to end their pregnancies," said Laurie Bertram Roberts, president of Mississippi’s National Organization for Women chapter. "Mississippi is already a low-access state. People think that women using coat hangers to induce an abortion is hyperbole, but it isn’t.”
Attorneys for the clinic have challenged the constitutionality of the law based on the argument that requiring admitting privileges is tantamount to banning abortion altogether. In the meantime, pro-choice advocates remain hopeful that access to safe abortions will not become a thing of the past in their state.
Molly Miller is a reporter for Campus Progress.