By Data Stream
By LAURA TILLMAN
JACKSON – Doctors at Mississippi’s lone abortion clinic would be required to be certified in obstetrics and gynecology and have privileges to admit patients to local hospitals under a hotly contested bill that passed the House on Tuesday.
During a debate that lasted more than an hour, opponents argued the requirement could close the clinic in Jackson if no doctor could be found to meet the requirement.
About three dozen representatives opposed the bill, arguing it would disproportionally affect poor women who would not be able to afford a trip to a clinic in another state.
The bill that passed on a 80-37 vote goes to the Republican-dominated Senate where its chances of passing are good.
House Public Health Committee Chairman Sam Mims V, R-McComb, said hospitals have the right to refuse admitting privileges to physicians, so it’s possible that the abortion clinic would find it impossible to come into compliance with the legislation by the July 1 deadline. Two of Jackson’s hospitals have Christian affiliation.
Mims said that if the clinic could find a doctor who meets the requirements, the measure would improve the safety of women who receive abortions if they need emergency care. He said his ultimate goal is to eliminate abortion in Mississippi.
“If this bill causes less abortions to happen, I believe it’s a positive result,” said Mims, who said he would vote in favor of all anti-abortion bills going through the Legislature.
Rep. Adrienne Wooten, D-Jackson said the male-dominated House had no business putting more regulations on abortion.
“The number of concerns that could pop up that could cause me to consider an abortion, you don’t have the right to tell me I can’t seek this type of assistance,” Wooten said.
Diane Derzis, president and owner of the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the state’s only abortion clinic, said one of the three doctors there has admitting privileges and all are OB-GYN certified. If the bill becomes law, she said there is still the possibility she will have to close.
“We’ve jumped through every hoop, we’re going to continue to try and do that,” Derzis said. “The people have already spoken against the personhood amendment. I hope the people of Mississippi tell their legislators to start dealing with things besides whether people are having abortions.”