Mississippi appears poised to close state's sole abortion clinic

April 06, 2012|By Richard Fausset
  • The battle over abortion has been long-running in Mississippi. Activist Flip Benham leads a 2006 protest outside the state's lone clinic that provides abortions.
The battle over abortion has been long-running in Mississippi. Activist… (Rogelio V. Solis / Associated…)

The sole abortion clinic in the state of Mississippi could be forced to close under a bill headed to the desk of Gov. Phil Bryant, who has said he intends to sign it.

The Jackson Clarion-Ledger reported that the state Senate gave final legislative approval to the measure on Thursday. It now heads to Bryant, a Republican who was elected to lead the state in November -- at the same time an antiabortion "personhood" amendment failed when put to a statewide vote.

During his first state of the state address in January, however, Bryant pledged he would not give up the fight.

"Please rest assured that I also have not abandoned my hope of making Mississippi abortion-free," he said. "I continue to believe that every life begins at conception and that every child should have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

The legislation, HB 1390, would require all doctors who perform abortions in an "abortion facility" to have admitting privileges at a local hospital, and to be board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology.

The owner of the state's sole abortion clinic, the Jackson Women's Health Organization, told the Associated Press that all of her staff doctors are board-certified. The problem is the admitting-privileges requirement. Diane Derzis said that only one of her doctors currently has local privileges.

The others do not because they live out of state, concerned about threats and stalking if they lived inside Mississippi. And local hospitals, Derzis told the AP, rarely give admitting privileges to out-of-state doctors.

In a statement, Mississippi's Republican lieutenant governor, Tate Reeves, praised the bill, along with others passed by the Senate that would strengthen abortion laws and require teachers and clergy to report suspected child abuse.

"These are strong, common-sense, pro-life bills that will not only end abortion in Mississippi but will enhance efforts to protect children from abuse," he said.

Nancy Keenan, president of the group NARAL Pro-Choice America, said in a statement that the bill would "make it nearly impossible for women to get abortion care in their state."


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