Health

Mississippi’s Last Abortion Clinic Sends A Message: ‘We’re Here, And We’re Not Going Anywhere’

Mississippi’s only remaining abortion clinic, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, is struggling to stay open as it is faced with unnecessary, complicated restrictions imposed by the state’s Republican lawmakers. But its owners are staying positive — and they hope to send that positive message to the rest of the Jackson community, now that the clinic building has gotten a new, bright pink facelift:

The Jackson Women’s Health Organization over the weekend painted its one-story structure on the corner of State Street and Fondren Place in a vibrant, cheery hue. It’s in contrast to the dark shadow of legal woes that has plagued its operations since last year, when the state passed a law threatening its closure.

“It’s a woman’s color,” said clinic Owner Diane Derzis. “It says, ‘We’re right here, and we’re not going anywhere.’

Since the paint job, the clinic has fielded numerous calls and heard dozens of comments from people saying they like it, according to clinic Director Shannon Brewer, who said the public reaction has surprised even clinic staff.

But since the Jackson clinic hasn’t been able to comply with the restrictive regulations — the new rules require the clinic’s doctors to secure hospital admitting privileges, but all seven hospitals in the surrounding area have so far denied them — it may be in trouble soon. On Thursday, the clinic received its first official notice that the state intends to revoke its operating license, although the women’s health organization will be able to remain open while it awaits a state hearing on the matter.

Anti-choice advocates claim they’re simply concerned about making sure clinics are safe. But at a closed-door event with abortion opponents earlier this month, Mississippi’s own governor revealed the GOP’s true intentions behind over-regulating the Jackson Women’s Health Organization. “My goal of course is to shut it down,” Gov. Phil Bryant (R) said. But it’s not going anywhere without a fight.