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Legal Battle To Keep Mississippi’s Only Abortion Clinic Open Resumes

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 28 Nov 2012 04:28pm | comments
Protestors outside the clinic during the summer.

Abortion rights advocates have filed a lawsuit to keep Mississippi's only abortion clinic open. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports this new legal battles is an effort to stop a law that could force the clinic to close.

Jackson women's Health Organization is the only abortion clinic in the state, and supporters argue a new clinic regulation law will force them to close.

The suit filed in federal court is asking a federal judge to block that law which requires all doctors at the abortion clinic to have admitting privileges at a local hospital.

Attorney Michelle Movahed  with the Center for Reproductive Rights, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the clinic, says after month's of trying, every hospital in Central Mississippi rejected requests for admitting privileges.

"They cited concerns about the effect that granted privileges to these doctors would have to the hospitals business relationships in the community. And then they cited hospital policy about abortion and obstetrics and gynecology more generally. Each hospital phrased it in its own way," Movahed said.

Only one doctor on staff has admitting privates, but Movahed says that would not be enough for the clinic to remain open.

Movahed argues that the intent of the law has always been to close the clinic, which she thinks would place an unconstitutional barrier between Mississippi women and abortion access.

Not so, says the bill's author state representative Sam Mims of McComb.

"The intent of this legislation is a health care issue for women. We completely believe that. We believe that abortion is a very serious procedure and we believe that when a person is performing an abortion at this clinic that they should have privileges at a local hospital," Mims said.

The Health Department plans to do an inspection in January to determine if the clinic is compliant with the law, unless the judge issues a ruling that stops the law from taking effect.

Attorney Movahed says if that inspection takes place, the clinic will not be compliant and likely required to close by mid-February.

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Protestors outside the clinic during the summer.


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