Court: Mississippi Can't Close Only Abortion Clinic

Judges: state shouldn't force women to go elsewhere
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 30, 2014 12:35 AM CDT
Sister Mary Dorothea Sondgeroth, right, leads abortion opponents in prayer on the sidewalk in front of the Jackson Women's Health Organization clinic in Jackson, Mississippi.   (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, file)
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(Newser) – A law that would have forced the only abortion clinic in Mississippi to close appears doomed after a federal court ruled against it once again. An appeals court panel decided 2-1 that State House Bill 1390, which requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals, would shift Mississippi's constitutional obligations onto other states by forcing the Jackson clinic to close, CNN reports. "Pre-viability, a woman has the constitutional right to end her pregnancy by abortion," but the law "effectively extinguishes that right within Mississippi's borders," the judges wrote.

The court didn't strike down the law itself, but "I think the way they ruled on those arguments essentially dooms the law," a constitutional law expert tells Jackson's Clarion-Ledger. He describes the ruling as a huge victory for the Jackson clinic, where doctors had been denied admitting privileges by all seven hospitals within a 30-minute drive. Gov. Phil Bryant—who said he wanted the state to be "abortion-free" when he signed the bill into law—says he's disappointed by the ruling and wants the case to go in front of the entire court instead of a "divided panel of judges." A similar law goes into effect in Louisiana on Sept. 1, and legal experts believe it won't face the same issues as the Mississippi law because at least one of the state's five abortion clinics will be able to remain open, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. (Read more Mississippi stories.)

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