Lifestyle & Belief

Mississippi's only abortion clinic fights to stay open

Mississippi's only abortion clinic is fighting to stay open as a new law going into effect on Sunday threatens to shut it down, NPR reported Friday

The law, which goes into effect July 1, requires that doctors who perform abortions in the state be board-certified OB-GYNs and have privileges to admit patients to a hospital, according to NPR. However, the law is largely understood to be in place to stop abortions in the state altogether, NPR reported.

"We have an opportunity today with the signing of this bill to end abortion in Mississippi," Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said at a bill-signing event in April. 

Jackson Women's Health Organization launched a federal lawsuit this week against the new law, arguing that it was unconstitutional to impose "medically unjustified requirements on physicians who perform abortions," the Associated Press reported

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Nancy Northup, president and CEO at the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, which filed the lawsuit on the clinic’s behalf, said in a statement that the law would make it difficult or impossible for many Mississippi women to get abortions should they need them, MSNBC reported

“This measure would force Mississippi women who are already facing difficult circumstances to travel hundreds of miles to a neighboring state to get an abortion," Northup said, MSNBC reported. "That is simply not an option for many poor and working-class women, and will certainly lead some to consider unsafe and illegal alternatives that pose grave risks to their health, lives, and reproductive future." 

Lawmakers argue that the bill is being put in place to protect patients' safety, the AP reported. However, Jackson's Women's Health Organization argued that the necessary are difficult or impossible for their doctors to obtain, "either because doctors live out of state or because religious-affiliated hospitals don't grant them to doctors who do abortions," according to the AP. 

"This is the canary in the mine," Diane Derzis, president of the clinic, told NPR, adding that Mississippi reflects a national trend of states restricting laws on abortions more tightly. "We're clearly losing. These are all laws that they have passed through the years to try to close this facility down."

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The clinic will be inspected on Monday by the state Department of Health, and will be given 45 days after that to comply with the new laws, Liz Sharlot, a health department spokeswoman, told MSNBC.  

“They will not shut down on July 2,” Sharlot told “This facility gets the same due process and procedures provided by the law as any other health care facility.”