Today marks the deadline for Mississippi’s sole remaining abortion clinic, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, to comply with the restrictive, unnecessary restrictions that the state’s Republican legislators imposed last summer. The new regulations require the clinic’s doctors to secure hospital admitting privileges, but all seven hospitals in the surrounding area have so far denied them. A Bush-appointed federal judge temporarily blocked the law to give the doctors more time to secure the privileges they need, but that order expires today.
In public, anti-choice advocates claim they support enacting additional regulations for abortion clinics as an important measure to protect women’s health and safety. But when Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) attended an anti-abortion event on Thursday, he didn’t feel the need the sugarcoat his real motives for signing the restrictive measure into law last year:
“My goal of course is to shut it down,” Gov. Phil Bryant said after addressing a group of pastors attending a pro-life luncheon Thursday in Jackson.
The governor doesn’t have that authority. Instead, by Friday lawyers representing the state must file a response in federal court to a motion by the Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
Bryant himself doesn’t have the authority to ensure that women in Mississippi are forced to go without a single abortion clinic, but he certainly can move closer to his goal by imposing “Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers” (TRAP) laws with the sole intention of indirectly restricting women’s reproductive rights. TRAP laws have been a successful method of targeting abortion providers in other states, since clinics are often forced to close when they are unable to meet the complicated new standards.
Bryant isn’t the first politician to suggest that TRAP laws are nothing more than a politicized attack on women’s constitutional right to an abortion. After Virginia imposed similar restrictions on its abortion clinics last year, the state’s health commissioner saw right through them — and resigned in protest of the Virginia Board of Health’s anti-choice agenda.
Unfortunately for the women of Mississippi, Bryant’s move toward accomplishing his goal could have dire consequences for them. The state already has high rates of teen and unintended pregnancy, statistics that Bryant chooses to blame on teenagers rather than accept responsibility for his own policies that promote ineffective, medically inaccurate abstinence education in schools.