Good News: Mississippi's Only Abortion Clinic Can Remain Open


The fate of Mississippi’s last remaining abortion clinic has been very tenuous for the past two years, a result of conservative lawmakers’ increasingly creative and dastardly attempts to deny women reproductive autonomy. Fortunately, a federal appeals panel has just struck down the severe anti-abortion measure that would have caused it to close its doors permanently.

In 2012, state lawmakers passed a bill requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a local hospital in order to remain open; as Mother Jones reports, other restrictive anti-abortion bills had already forced several clinics in the state to close down. Had the admitting privileges law been allowed to take effect immediately, Mississippi’s one remaining clinic would have been forced to shut its doors. Thus, a federal judge blocked implementation of the law while its constitutionality was determined, and the state’s sole abortion provider tried and failed to obtain admitting privileges at the seven hospitals at which it was eligible.

Admitting privileges are not medically necessary; they’re a tactic used by conservative lawmakers to close down abortion providers. Such Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws have successfully shuttered clinics across the country, putting a huge and undue burden on women who wish to terminate unwanted pregnancies. Had this measure succeeded, Mississippi would have been the first state post-Roe v. Wade without a single abortion facility.

Thankfully, that didn’t happen: the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit — despite its reputation of sucking, big time — ruled 2 to 1 that Mississippi being like, “Ugh, ooookkaaay, women can’t get abortions here, as is their constitutional right, but they can totally go to Alabama or something if they want!!!!” is not acceptable and blocked the law from taking effect. Per the court’s ruling:

Mississippi may not shift its obligation to respect the established constitutional rights of its citizens to another state. Such a proposal would not only place an undue burden on the exercise of the constitutional right, but would also disregard a state’s obligation under the principle of federalism—applicable to all fifty states—to accept the burden of the non-delegable duty of protecting the established federal constitutional rights of its own citizens.

In a news release, Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive rights, said: “Today’s ruling ensures women who have decided to end a pregnancy will continue, for now, to have access to safe, legal care in their home state.” For now.

Image via AP.

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