The fight to close Mississippi’s lone abortion clinic took another step today, as lawyers entered a federal court of appeals on Monday.
Here’s a bit of backstory; in 2012, a U.S. District Judge allowed a Mississippi law forcing abortion clinic physicians to obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals or risk closure of their facility. However, the Judge blocked the state from closing the only local abortion provider while it worked to meet the new requirements. According to the AP, the fallout from closing that one remaining clinic has given the panel of three 5th Circuit court judges pause because, as Jackson Women’s Health Organization attorney Julie Rikelman argued today, it places “undue burden” on those in need by forcing them to travel out of state for care — something not everyone can afford.
"It seems to me you've got a steep hill to climb when you say the only clinic in the state is closing," Judge E. Grady Jolly told attorney Paul Barnes, of the Mississippi Attorney General's Office.
Barnes argued that the Supreme Court upheld the Constitution’s guarantee to an abortion but not one that risks the patient’s life. He continued that the law demanding admittance privileges is merely trying to save women’s lives! It has nothing to do with banning abortion in the state! Though Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant publicly expressed exactly that as his goal earlier this year and is incrementally dismantling the practice at home. According to Mother Jones, the Jackson Women's doctors have been rejected for admitting privileges at every hospital they've applied or barred from submitting applications at all. In addition, just last week Bryant banned abortions at 20 weeks, with no exceptions for rape or incest. The law takes effect July 1.
Meanwhile, the judiciary group did not reveal how or when they would make their final decision regarding whether the Magnolia State facility would remain open.
In other states like Louisiana and Texas, similar anti-abortion cases are snaking their way through the justice system so all those political conversations about the end of the war on women is clearly just for the cameras and campaign commercials.
Image via Jackson Women's Health Organization.