The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit will hear arguments next week regarding a 2012 law that would force the only remaining clinic in Mississippi to close, making it the first state in the nation without an abortion clinic. Not one.
The law, passed in 2012, requires doctors at abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at local hospitals and to be certified in obstetrics and gynecology. Lawmakers explained that the requirement was intended to protect the health of women, though, according to the New York Times, the governor and legislators didn't hide their hope that it would lead to the closing of the Jackson Women's Health Organization, the state's only clinic. (Gov. Phil Bryant said he wants to "make Mississippi abortion-free.")
The clinic sued and the law is not currently being implemented after Judge Daniel P. Jordan III issued a preliminary injunction in 2013, saying the law was likely unconstitutional: "Though the debate over abortion continues, there exists legal precedent the court must follow." The state appealed the decision, sending the case to the 5th Circuit.
The Jackson Women's Heath Organization has two providers, neither of which have admitting privileges — though, not for lack of trying. Clinic owner Diane Derzis explains:
"We applied to every hospital—eight to 10 of them. ... The Catholic hospital turned us down immediately. The rest took a while, but turned us down without looking at the physicians. They put in writing that they were unable to handle the public press from this; they were upfront about it. It's clear the politics prevailed with this whole thing."
It is not clear how the 5th Circuit will rule. As the National Journal points out, the court is the same one that recently upheld a law that will close all but six abortion clinics in the state of Texas, but the fact that this is Mississippi's only abortion clinic might work in its favor.
The court will consider the state's appeal beginning on Monday. If the judges uphold the lower court's decision, the law will continue to be put on hold. If they strike it down, the law will immediately be put into effect.
[Image credit: AP]