Mississippi's Only Abortion Clinic Will Remain Open, Thanks to Anti-Choicers' Big Mouths

Loose lips sink abortion eliminating ships. Erm, laws. Today, a federal judge temporarily extended an injunction blocking the enforcement of a state law designed to close the state's only abortion clinic in part because politicians who vocally supported the law couldn't fucking shut up about how the law wasn't about safety at all, it was about interfering with Mississippi women's access to abortion. As the kids say: Derp.

Mississippi currently boasts but a single abortion clinic, the Jackson Women's Health Organization. Only three doctors perform abortions there, and two of those doctors live out of state because people in Mississippi can't resist the urge to act like assholes to them. Earlier this year, an overwhelmingly Republican state legislature passed a law that would have required that abortions only be performed by board certified OB-GYNs and that all doctors performing abortions in the state have admitting privileges to local hospitals. The first provision of the law wasn't a problem; each of the doctors at JWHO are board certified. But the second provision gets tricky — even though the health center has an agreement with a local hospital that will allow patients to be admitted if they experience complications, two of the doctors at JWHO don't have admitting privileges because hospitals don't typically grant them to out of state doctors. Even so, complications at the clinic are few and far between; since clinic owner Diane Derzis acquired the clinic in 2010, no women have left the clinic in an ambulance.

During debate of the bill, its backers claimed that it was about "protecting women" and stuff, whereas opponents claimed it was about ending abortion, which the Supreme Court has determined is a constitutionally protected right. But after the bill passed and was signed into law by the state's Republican governor, gums started flapping. State Rep. Bubba Carpenter famously said

It's going to be challenged, of course, in the Supreme Court and all - but literally, we stopped abortion in the state of Mississippi, legally, without having to- Roe vs. Wade. So we've done that. I was proud of it. The governor signed it into law. And of course, there you have the other side. They're like, 'Well, the poor pitiful women that can't afford to go out of state are just going to start doing them at home with a coat hanger. That's what we've learned over and over and over.'

But hey, you have to have moral values.

Coat hanger abortions. But, hey. Carpenter wasn't the only cocky pol to brag about how the bill's aim was to eliminate abortion in the state of Mississippi. The state's governor and lieutenant governor both bragged about how they had played a part in making it really hard for women who become pregnant to become unpregnant.

During the bill's July 1st hearing, that blabbermouthery came back to bite anti abortion rights politicians in the ass, as Federal Judge Dan Jordan, a George W. Bush appointee, noted that their crowing was unseemly and "unlike anything [he'd] ever seen before." Then he granted opponents to the law a temporary injunction blocking its enforcement.

Today, Jordan was concerned about whether the law would unduly affect Mississippi women's access to abortion. The state argued that it would be totally willing to give the clinic some time to comply with the new regulations, but the clinic's attorney pointed out that enforcing the law before hospitals were able to go through the process of granting or not granting doctors admitting privileges would be akin to taking abortion access away from Mississippi women. In response, Jordan extended the temporary injunction until he has a chance to read the state's Board of Health rules and determine whether or not the law's enforcement would cause "irreparable harm" to the clinic.

It's not time to jump up and down and throw your cowboy hat in the air while going "Whooo-eee!" just yet, though. The law's only temporarily blocked, which means Jordan still hasn't permanently made up his mind. But this is good news for the time being — if Jordan rules that the law is BS posturing designed as a backdoor way to outlaw abortion, other states trying to similarly burden their clinics (ahem, Michigan) may have to stop and reevaluate their own shitty laws or risk passing law after symbolic law that they know will be struck down. And what self-respecting legislative body would want that?

[Jackson Free Press]