Mississippi’s sole abortion clinic sues over new law

by
June 28, 2012

By Emily Le Coz

TUPELO, Miss., June 27 (Reuters) – The lone abortion facility in Mississippi asked a federal court on Wednesday to block a new state law that will require doctors who perform the controversial procedure to have admitting privileges at a local hospital.

The law, set to take effect on Sunday, threatens to make Mississippi the only U.S. state without an abortion clinic. Some anti-abortion state lawmakers say they hope that would mean an end to abortions there.

The state’s sole clinic, Jackson Women’s Health Organization, says the new measure is unconstitutional because it aims to effectively ban abortions in Mississippi.

The clinic is also seeking immediate relief from the court to be given more time to try to comply with the law, according to the lawsuit filed on its behalf by the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights.

Clinic representatives said they began applying for the necessary privileges after Mississippi’s Republican Governor Phil Bryant signed the measure into law in mid-April. But they have struggled to obtain them at any of the half-dozen hospitals within a 30-minute drive of the clinic, located in Jackson, the state capital.

“We have been attempting to comply with the law, but we just have not had adequate time for the privileges to come through, if they come through,” clinic owner Diane Derzis told Reuters. “We’ve not been turned down outright, except on a few hospitals that had religious beliefs that didn’t coincide.”

The state legislator who sponsored the law said he was not surprised by the legal challenge, and he felt confident it would withstand the court test.

“It’s been over 70 days since Gov. Bryant signed this legislation,” Republican Representative Sam Mims said. “For them to say we don’t have time, I just don’t buy that argument.”

Mississippi already has some of the country’s strictest abortion laws and one of the lowest abortion rates. It also has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the United States – more than 60 percent above the national average in 2010.

The state became a battleground for reproductive rights last fall when voters weighed in on a constitutional “personhood” amendment that defined life as starting at the moment eggs are fertilized. Voters handed abortion opponents a setback by rejecting the proposed amendment.

To read more, visit: http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/06/27/usa-abortion-mississippi-idINL2E8HRBZY20120627

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