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Mississippi Only Abortion Clinic Misses Deadline To Comply With New Law

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 12 Jan 2013 03:14pm | comments
Protestors outside the clinic during the summer.

The Mississippi Department of Health could inspect the state's only abortion clinic this week to see if it complies with a new regulation signed into law last year. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports the clinic says it will fail that inspection, but that does not mean its doors will close immediately.

The law requires all the doctors working at the Jackson-based clinic to be OB-GYNs with admitting privileges at a local hospital.

Clinic owner Diane Derzis says every hospital in the area rejected their requests for privileges.

She believes they feared the intense scrutiny hospitals could for for extending privileges.

"Especially with how the hospitals looked at this. And the comments they made with this. That this is an extraordinary law that has one purpose only, and that is what we have said all along, and that is to put the clinic out of business," Derzis said.

Derzis says when inspectors come to the clinic, they will fail the inspection because not all of their doctors will have admitting privileges.

But that the clinic will not shut down immediately.

A failed inspection will trigger an administrative procedure that could last until March before the clinic's license is revoked.

The center for Reproductive Rights has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the clinic to stop the law, claiming it is unconstitutional.

Attorney Michelle Movahed says the law is unconstitutional because is intended to close the clinic and puts too high a barrier between Mississippi women and abortion.

"We have a pretty clear set of facts here. So hopefully the court will rule in our favor and prevent the department of health from enforcing an unconstitutional law," Movahed said.

High profile state Republicans have lined up in support of the law, including the Governor and Lt. Governor, who say their goal is to make Mississippi abortion free.

In court documents filed Friday, the state says the law is a legitimate health and safety regulation that is well within the department of health's purview.

The state also says opponents of the law have not shown that the legislature's goal is to shut the clinic down.

And that even if the clinic closed, it is not an undue burden because Mississippi women can receive an abortion from private doctors fewer than 10 abortions a month and therefore are not regulated as an abortion provider.

The judge is expected to issue a ruling on the law later this month.

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Protestors outside the clinic during the summer.


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