Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.
UPDATE: Mississippi's last remaining abortion clinic will remain open for at least a little longer.
The Jackson Free Press reports that a federal judge on Wednesday extended a previously issued injunction against a state law that effectively bans abortion in Mississippi. Judge Daniel Jordan, the paper explains, upheld the July 1 injunction to give himself more time to get familiar with the Mississippi Board of Health rules at the center of the case.
The controversial law requires doctors performing abortions in the state to have admitting privileges at local hospitals, an unusual clearance for OB-GYNs. Although the law doesn’t specifically ban abortions, it would effectively end the procedure in the state by shutting down the only remaining clinic, something Gov. Phil Bryant has openly stated as the law’s objective. The measure, he has previously said, is "the first step in a movement, I believe, to do what we campaigned on: to say that we're going to try to end abortion in Mississippi."
Jordan imposed the injunction against the law because he questioned the motives of the bill’s high-profile backers. In Wednesday’s two-hour hearing on the issue, state attorneys defending the new law argued that the judge cannot block the law based on statements that the governor and lieutenant governor made about the intent of the law because they didn’t author the bill.
Meanwhile, the attorney for the clinic argued that the purpose of the law is not to benefit women’s health but to unconstitutionally restrict women’s access to abortion in the state.
Monday, July 2: A federal judge is making sure Mississippi's only abortion clinic remains open for now. U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Jordan issued a temporary restraining order Sunday that blocked a new law that the Jackson Women's Health Organization says could make Mississippi the only state without an abortion clinic, reports Reuters. Jordan has set a hearing for July 11 to decide whether the block on the law's implementation should be extended.
"Plaintiffs have offered evidence—including quotes from significant legislative and executive officers—that the act's purpose is to eliminate abortions in Mississippi," the judge wrote. "They likewise submitted evidence that no safety or health concerns motivated its passage."
Gov. Phil Bryant found the decision "disappointing," according to his spokesman, reports CNN. The governor "plans to work with state leaders to ensure this legislation properly takes effect as soon as possible."
Wednesday, June 27: Mississippi’s last remaining abortion clinic filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday to block a law that will likely make it impossible for the clinic to operate.
The Associated Press reports that the Jackson Women’s Health Organization contends that the law will effectively ban abortion in Mississippi and endanger women's health in the process. The new law requires OB-GYNs who perform the procedures at clinics to have hospital admittance privileges, which the clinic says is impossible to get by the time the law will take effect Sunday.
Gov. Phil Bryant signed the bill with the intent to cut back on abortions in the state. Responding to concerns about the effect of the law on the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Bryant said, "If it closes that clinic, then so be it."
The clinic is asking a federal judge to temporarily block the law from being enforced. The clinic released a statement that unless the judge intervenes, it will be forced to stop providing abortions, "leaving those women with nowhere else to turn."
Friday, June 22: Beginning next month, women may no longer be able to get an abortion in the state of Mississippi—despite the fact that the procedure will remain technically legal there.
The Associated Press explains: A new law passed earlier this year by the state's GOP-dominated legislature will require all abortion clinic physicians to have staff and admitting privileges at a local hospital. The problem? None of the three doctors at the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the state's last remaining abortion clinic, has those privileges.
The three doctors are board certified in obstetrics and gynecology as the new law requires, but their applications to seven area hospitals for admitting privileges are still pending with the deadline less than two weeks away. If the Jackson clinic is forced to close its doors, Mississippi would become the first state without a dedicated abortion clinic, according to Bloomberg.
Correction: Because of a photo-provider error, a caption in an earlier version of this post misidentified Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder as Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant.