Appeals Court Saves Mississippi’s Only Abortion Clinic

CREDIT: AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File

On Tuesday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a law that would have closed down Mississippi’s only abortion clinic, invalidating a 2012 measure requiring abortion doctors to obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals. The state’s only two abortion providers fly in from out of state to serve patients and were repeatedly denied partnerships with local hospitals.

The three-judge panel ruled that since the U.S. Supreme Court established a constitutional right to abortion, “Mississippi may not shift its obligation for established constitutional rights of its citizens to another state,” the Associated Press reports.

“Pre-viability, a woman has the constitutional right to end her pregnancy by abortion. H.B. 1390 effectively extinguishes that right within Mississippi’s borders,” judges E. Grady Jolly of Mississippi and Stephan A. Higginson of Louisiana wrote in the 2-1 ruling. Jolly was appointed by President Ronald Reagan, while Higginson was appointed by President Barack Obama.

The Jackson Women’s Health Organization clinic has operated for nearly two decades and has become the state’s sole abortion provider. Back in 1981, Mississippi had as many as 14 different facilities that offered abortion services.

More than half the states have enacted laws that limit women’s access to abortion services by requiring clinics to undergo unnecessary and expensive renovations, including widening hallways, building closets, and installing water fountains. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists opposes these so-called Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, or TRAP laws. Still, TRAP laws have already closed more than 50 abortion clinics over the past several years.