By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
The state’s only abortion clinic filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Southern Mississippi today in an effort to block a new law going into effect July 1 that could force its closure.
(Read the lawsuit in the PDF file, at left)
The law, signed by Gov. Phil Bryant in April, requires abortion providers to be certified in obstetrics and gynecology and have admitting privileges at a local hospital.
Although the clinic’s physicians are certified OB-GYNs, they’ve struggled to obtain hospital privileges within the required time frame.
Hospital legal advisers have alleged the law is simply a political tactic to force the clinic to close and ban abortion statewide.
“For years, we have been beating back Mississippi’s underhanded tactics to close the only abortion clinic in the state,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO at the Center for Reproductive Rights, which provides legal services for the clinic. “Mississippi lawmakers’ hostility to women and their reproductive rights does not give them license to violate their constitutional rights.
“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. 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.”
But lawmakers, including the bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Sam Mims, R-McComb, say protects women by providing extra safety measures and that the clinic has had ample time to comply.
The Mississippi Department of Health, which is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, is set to inspect the JWHO on Monday. If it hasn’t complied with the law, it will give the clinic 10 working days to submit a corrections plan.
Check back for more updates.