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Jackson Women's Health Organization
Jackson Women's Health Organization
A three-judge panel of the federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments Monday in a closely watched case whose outcome could mean Mississippi women will have to travel to another state to obtain a legal abortion. A ruling is not expected for months:
"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 law was a legitimate, constitutional exercise of state power. The Supreme Court has held that the Constitution guarantees the right to an abortion, but not an unsafe one, Barnes told judges. And he said the law is designed to ensure the health and safety of Mississippi women.

Barnes was spouting bullshit.

The case stems from a law passed in 2012 that requires abortion clinics to have doctors on staff with admitting privileges at a local hospital. While lawmakers and Gov. Phil Bryant claim they are only protecting women's health, the real purpose behind the law is to close the state's only remaining abortion clinic, the Jackson Women's Health Organization. Bryant has bragged that he wants to "make Mississippi abortion-free." That, of course, won't happen. There will always be abortions. His approach just means some of the ones performed will be lethal to the women who have them.

Please read below the fold for more analysis.

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Texas, Wisconsin and Alabama have already passed similar laws, with supporters making the same kind of bogus "maternal health" claims. A different three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit upheld the Lone Star State's law last month. Alabama's law will be heard by a panel of the 11th Circuit Court May 19.

Thirty years ago, Mississippi had 14 abortion clinics. Fifteen years ago, it still had six. But harassment, threats and a series of medically unnecessary regulations have closed them down one by one. Since 2002, only the Jackson Women’s Health Organization has provided abortions, and it has been under siege from forced birthers the entire time. Its owner and community supporters have kept it open so far, but if the admitting privileges law is upheld, that clinic too will be shuttered. The closest abortion clinic would then be three hours away in Alabama. But if the court rules in favor of the Alabama law, three of that state's five abortion clinics will also have to close their doors.

The Jackson clinic has three board-certified OB/GYNs on staff, and it has a transfer agreement with a local hospital that would automatically admit any patient who needed medical help from complications of an abortion. But that wasn't good enough for Mississippi legislators. And they knew it would be impossible for the clinic to obtain those admitting privileges because the doctors there come from out of state and admitting privileges aren't granted to non-resident doctors. Why do Jackson's physicians live out of state? To protect themselves from stalking and death threats.

Jessica Mason Pieklo reports:

“The devastating impact of this unconstitutional law couldn’t be clearer. If it is allowed to take effect, Mississippi will become the first state since Roe v. Wade without a single clinic offering safe, legal abortion care,” said Julie Rikelman, litigation director for the Center for Reproductive Rights, in a statement. “This is a blatant violation of women’s constitutional rights and an imminent danger to their health and well-being. We are hopeful that this court, like the district court that blocked the law, will continue to protect Mississippi women’s ability and constitutional right to safely and legally end a pregnancy without having to cross state lines.”
Like all such forced-birther statutes, the Mississippi law—if upheld—will harm all women seeking an abortion in the state. But because affluent women can always get an abortion, its greatest impact will be on poor women. It will, in fact, kill poor women. Mostly poor, black women. But don't expect legislators complicit in those deaths to accept responsibility for them. Despite all their "pro-life" rhetoric, that is not what they are really about.
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Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 10:01 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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