The Jackson Women’s Health Organization – also known as Mississippi’s only abortion clinic – has asked a federal court to block a new law that could force the clinic to close. The law, which is set to go into effect on Sunday, July 1, would require abortion providers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. The clinic is also requesting more time to try and comply with the law; clinic representatives say that they began applying for the privileges several months ago, but have been unable to obtain them at any hospital located within a half-hour drive from the clinic. Representative Sam Mims, who sponsored the bill, has asked the state’s Department of Health to deny the clinic a grace period.
Unsurprisingly, the law’s supporters claim that their intent is to protect women. Of course, the fact that all of the OB/GYNs currently working at the clinic – all of whom fly in from out of state – are board-certified hasn’t seemed to made an impression on these politicians, who have not been shy about also stating their opposition to abortion. Mims has said, “My hope is that the women that are making these choices will now choose life, that they will realize that life begins at conception,” and he’s far from the only prominent abortion opponent supporting the law. As the Center for Reproductive Rights, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of Jackson Women’s Health, pointed out,
“Supporters of the measure have made it abundantly clear the regulations were intended to shut the clinic down:
- Governor Phil Bryant, when vowing to sign the bill, said that he would “continue to work to make Mississippi abortion-free.”
- The state’s Lt. Governor Tate Reeves stated that “the measure should effectively close Mississippi’s only abortion clinic” and “end abortion in Mississippi” when the bill passed the state Senate in April.
- State Senator Merle Flowers told reporters that “There’s only one abortion clinic in Mississippi. I hope this measure shuts that down.”
- State Representative Bubba Carpenter recently told a group of local county Republicans that “We have literally stopped abortion in the state of Mississippi,” and that “the other side [is] 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 heard over and over and over. But hey, you have to have moral values.”
Moral values, Bubba? Like ensuring that no woman living in Mississippi will be able to obtain safe, legal healthcare within state lines? And doing so with such a cavalier disregard for their health and well-being? That’s not moral. That’s not even in the same universe as moral. That’s pushing an agenda designed to interfere in private, protected health decisions – which actually seems pretty darn immoral.
Sarah's first book, Generation Roe: Inside the Future of the Pro-Choice Movement, will be out March 2013. For more information, follow her on Twitter @saraherdreich, or check out saraherdreich.com.