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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.

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.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 10:01 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  See, here's where you get the split in racism. (7+ / 0-)

    If racists hated blacks, why would they oppose their getting abortions to prevent black life and all the public expenditures made on behalf of purported black inferiors/parasites?  Or is this just about being able to tell others what to do with the most intimate aspects of their lives?  Or is this about the creation and maintenance of an owned/controlled underclass?

    The teabagger or white power type's racism may be different that that of the ownership class.  One is based in fear and the need to separate from the other, whereas the ownership's racism is a need for ownership and control of the other.

    "You cannot win improv." Stephen Colbert ( at 16:24).

    by Publius2008 on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 10:12:53 AM PDT

  •  if women would boycott such/men.. (3+ / 0-)

    decent wages don't eliminate jobs. Republicans eliminate jobs; and workers, and prospects, and then excuse it all and call for more austerity. there is no end to their ignorant, arrogant avarice. only political dinosaurs support their treachery.

    by renzo capetti on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 11:11:01 AM PDT

    •  A new Lysestrata? (0+ / 0-)

      That would certainly be something.

      Being attentive to the needs of others might not be the point of life, but it is the work of life. It can be ... almost impossibly difficult. But it is not something we give. It is what we get in exchange for having to die. - Jonathan Safran Foer

      by ramara on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 03:18:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  What those making the "admitting priveliges" (26+ / 0-)

    argument are ignoring is obvious to anyone in the medical profession. Most doctors no longer admit to hospitals. The hospitals have hospitalists and some groups of specialists on staff. None of our local primary care physicians admit any more.

    Patients are admitted through the emergency room, which triages them.Go to the emergency room where you will be screened, given emergency intervention if necessary, and then either sent home or admitted, where the first doctor you see is a hosptalist. Those are usually internists, who then consult whatever specialist seems appropriate.

    That even includes psychiatric patients. For example, a psychiatric patient can no longer walk up to the admissions desk of a psychiatric hospital and get admitted, even if they are overtly and floridly psychotic. Those patients are like anyone else. They are interviewed and evaluated in the ER by a mental health specialist, who is most likely going to be a clinical social worker.

    Rudeness is a weak imitation of strength. - Eric Hoffer

    by Otteray Scribe on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 11:17:46 AM PDT

    •  how that applies to the statute (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sfbob, kfunk937

      - where does Mississippi's legislative record show an evaluation of complications from abortions broken out by doctors with admitting privileges or not?

      - what other outpatient surgical procedures of comparable risk (for sake of argument, Lasik or vasectomies or something) are performed by physicians without admitting privileges?  What evidence is there Mississippi compared complication rates?  

      I think even Judge Jolly gets that it's pretext when it's the last clinic in the state that'd stay open but for this reg, so therefore it's entirely appropriate to look at what factual findings actually support this reg as an application of health protection.  There they will find none.  With a protected right, "truthiness" doesn't cut it.  

      Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

      by Loge on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 02:54:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I was not aware of this. It should be publicized. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sfbob, Sue B, Otteray Scribe, RightHeaded

      How many Mississippi doctors have "admitting privileges"?  If the answer is NONE...or only a few...this should show what a sham the "law" is.

      "Evil is a lack of empathy, a total incapacity to feel with their fellow man." - Capt. Gilbert,Psychiatrist, at the end of Nuremberg trials.

      by 417els on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 03:09:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sham is the right word. Check out this... (6+ / 0-)

        ...excerpt from a post I wrote 13 months ago:

        In a state with a black population of 37 percent, the 11-member health board has one African American member. It would have had two if Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves hadn't kept the nomination of OB/GYN Dr. Carl Reddix from reaching the Senate Health Committee for confirmation last April. Then-Gov. Haley Barbour, also a Republican, had appointed Reddix to fill an unexpected vacancy on the board in the summer of 2011. Reddix served in that post until Reeves's action got him removed 10 months later.

        Reddix was ousted because he had agreed over a decade to provide emergency services to the state's only remaining abortion clinic, the Jackson Women's Health Organization. Reeves's spokewoman said at the time "he felt that [Reddix's] association with the abortion clinic was not appropriate in a role that would shape health policy for the state." Reeves said he wanted a qualified physician instead.

        Reddix, born in the Mississippi coastal city of Biloxi 54 years ago, graduated from Tougaloo College, then earned degrees from Tufts University School of Medicine and Harvard University. He completed his residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Clearly short in the qualifications department. His role for the clinic was straightforward. He didn't ever provide an abortion, but he was ready to provide emergency help if something went medically wrong. He says he was called upon only a couple of times to do so in all the years he agreed to help if the need arose.

        The real problem with Reddix was that he had "admitting privileges" at a local hospital. The legislature last year passed a law that requires abortion clinics to hire only those physicians with hospital admitting privileges, a medically unnecessary practice, as a means by which to close the state's last remaining abortion clinic. North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple just signed a similar law designed to close that state's last abortion clinic in Fargo. Read about Reddix's views below the fold.

        Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

        by Meteor Blades on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 03:55:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Excellent point. Unless Mississippi (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RightHeaded, Otteray Scribe

      is different from every other state, the demand they're making is for something that doesn't even exist anymore.

      Proud to be a Democrat

      by Lying eyes on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 05:51:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Right to choose erodes (16+ / 0-)

    ..before our eyes, and the "right-to-life" ghouls do their happy dances while women die. God damn.

    Cogito, ergo Democrata.

    by Ahianne on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 02:04:20 PM PDT

    •  But they didn't say you couldn't get an abotion (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LilithGardener, Ahianne, RunawayRose

      You just have to have the money to cover airfare to Chigago, car rental, hotel, meals and the procedurre itself. If the desperarely poor pregnant teenage girl from rural Mississippi can't pay for those things then that's not the responsibility of Republican legislators and Governor Bryant; its her fault for being poor.

      "For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die." --Senator Ted Kennedy

      by Blue Silent Majority on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 04:55:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The important question to have asked of (11+ / 0-)

    Barnes is "What is it about having admitting privileges that in any way, shape or form makes abortion more safe?"   Since the right to an abortion is a basic right,  MS's regulation must be demonstrated to further the state's "important" interest here in a manner that is substantially related to that interest (assuming intermediate scrutiny).

    I’ve said before, I will always work with anyone who is willing to make this law work even better. But the debate over repealing this law is over. The Affordable Care Act is here to stay. -- President Barack Obama

    by Its the Supreme Court Stupid on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 02:38:41 PM PDT

  •  You get what you vote for! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Puddytat, rabel

    If Mississippian's want this to change, they will change their voting patterns.

    •  Same in Texas (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      47songs, arlene

      Anytime legislators pass ridiculous laws like this it's completely on purpose and exactly what the voting and non-voting public wanted.

      As Kos keeps pointing out, if we vote, we win because there are more of us than there are of them. But we don't vote and so this is what we get. Then all these people show up to "protest" the new law and sign petitions when really all they had to do in the first place was to simply cast their vote.

      [Terrorists] are a dime a dozen, they are all over the world and for every one we lock up there will be three to take his place. --Digby

      by rabel on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 02:56:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  what makes you think (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sfbob, 47songs, Meteor Blades

      women who might depend on legal abortion access aren't voting for pro-choice candidates, if they're even running?  The whole reason abortion is a protected right is because it's not the sort of decision that should be contingent on majority vote - so, factor in the 49% of men, whatever percentage of religious folk, women past childbearing age, and people rich enough not to care, that's a majority.  That's especially so when the regulation on its face disguises its final motives.  What if they demanded doctors performing abortions have board certification in neonatal surgery? Laws like this never put the issue before the electorate in an honest matter.  And in a lot of republican state (meaning, 40% or so still dem), poor people may not be able to vote, practically speaking, with voter id and restrictions on early voting hours.  

      The consequences of closing the last remaining clinic, also, is to ban ALL abortion - so, what about the 16 year old that's been raped by her stepfather?  For whom should she have voted?  

      I'm willing to put up with some pretty shitty democrats coming out of a state like Mississippi, but the blame here is not on the voters, but the politicians.  They have lawyers telling them what is Constitutional, and here they are doing the exact opposite and calling themselves clever.  

      Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

      by Loge on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 03:01:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I do agree with you. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Loge, OrdinaryIowan

        My post was too simplistic for such a complicated issue and I apologize for that. As a woman who needed to have an abortion many years ago, but who lives in a very liberal state, I live with a certain ignorance that hasn't provided me with enough understanding of those who do not. I've had to battle my own demons, but at least they're my own. Those who live in states that continually strive to take away each woman's right to choose, have to live with heartless politicians demons.

        •  Sorry, i misinterpreted as well (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          47songs, Meteor Blades

          I can see how frustrating it is that people keep electing anti-choice zealots, but a lot of times here people will talk about a place like Mississippi as if being a red state means everyone's monolithically conservative, but this story shows there are good people in Jackson fighting really hard to protect this freedom.  Voting data tend to show that of those who do vote, lower income people relatively tend to favor more liberal candidates.  But in a state like Miss, i can see how sometimes it's hard to even bother since the numbers are still tilted against, more ways than one.

          Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

          by Loge on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 04:00:26 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yup. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Loge, OrdinaryIowan

            It's an uphill battle, for sure. I think the only time I saw revolt in a red state work was against a personhood amendment. Can't remember the state, but it took a lot of work and different groups (planned parenthood for one)coming into the state to help teach people about the issue and how it would affect them. They won, but I don't know if that kind of intense fight can continue on an ongoing everyday basis. Roe v Wade is law. Why should we have to keep fighting for women's rights day after day? Well, we shouldn't. But we do because those who appose women making decisions for themselves have found tricky ways of getting anti-choice laws to work just within their own states. Sometimes I think we're headed for another civil war.

            Yup. It's an uphill battle.

  •  The Answer is, of course, "Nothing" (7+ / 0-)

    Admitting privileges do not make abortion any safer—or less safe, for that matter. If complications arise with an abortion, complications that required hospitalization, the nearest hospital (provided it wasn't Catholic) would admit the woman and take care of her needs, whether the gynecologist had admitting privileges or not.

    I know. I've escorted at an abortion clinic for over a decade, during which time about 15,000 abortions were performed. In that time, I've seen two patients transferred to the hospital for further care. My understanding is that one was for an adverse reaction to anesthesia and the other was for a perforated ulcer. Both were out of the hospital the next day.  

    Would that full term pregnancies had as low a rate of complications.

  •  Can someone ask them about other regs? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Clean air, clean water, OSHA, minimum wage....

    "He who fights monsters should see to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."

    by Hayate Yagami on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 02:52:46 PM PDT

  •  I was an RN before Roe v. Wade (10+ / 0-)

    and clearly remember the patient who died from a back alley abortion (from sepsis).  

    After Roe, I never saw it again because women could have a safe procedure and get information and prescriptions to prevent pregnancies in the future.

    These guys aren't anti-abortion, they're anti safe and legal abortion and in favor of a slow and painful death from the complications of unsafe procedures performed by amateurs.

    There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

    by Puddytat on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 02:55:23 PM PDT

  •  The Federa Fith Circuit....Isn't that Rick Perry's (0+ / 0-)

    personal and private legal certification club for OK'ing Texas executions?

    Not much reason to be optimistic in the present case with that particular federal appeals circuit.

  •  I have little doubt... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LakeSuperior, LilithGardener
    ...a closely watched case whose outcome could mean Mississippi women will have to travel to another state to obtain a legal abortion.
    ...that should Mississippi prevail, a 21st Century version of the Mann Act could follow in short order.
    •  What's the Mann Act? nt (0+ / 0-)

      "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” — William Arthur Ward

      by LilithGardener on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 05:24:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  A federal law... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ...passed in 1910 that made it a felony to transport a female across state lines for "immoral purposes."

        It's had a couple modifications but is still on the books (and still the basis for the occasional prosecution).

        Although it's a federal statute, it doesn't take much to imagine that anti-choice states might - as with laws against transporting goods like liquor or tobacco from neighboring low-tax states - test the waters with their own versions.  

  •  But Who's on the Appellate Panel? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sfbob, OrdinaryIowan, kfunk937

    Edith Jones was once the chief judge for the Court of Appeals on the Fifth Circuit and she's manifested absolute opposition to abortion, has shown strong bias against blacks from the bench, and other transgressions. If she's on the panel—and when she was chief judge, she would have named herself—the panel would support the Mississippi law. She's committed so many transgressions that civil rights groups filed a number of complaints about her, forcing Chief Justice Roberts to have her reviewed by a panel from the US DC courts. I don't know where that stands now, but I'm hoping she's forced to retire.

  •  We need a personhood amendment for women (7+ / 0-)

    Really, we need one for women. At what stage of development do women become humans with full constitutional rights? The GOP is killing women to demand rights for fetuses, at what point do women get the right to life?

    Only in our dreams are we free. The rest of the time we need wages.-Terry Pratchett

    by Shippo1776 on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 03:11:31 PM PDT

  •  Are there hospitals in the state that perform (0+ / 0-)


    If hospitals do this, and no abortion clinics in the state, then abortion would still be available in state.

    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

    by nextstep on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 03:23:15 PM PDT

    •  The above comment is not to diminish the impact (0+ / 0-)

      of reduced availability in the state, just if abortion would be availbe in state.

      The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

      by nextstep on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 03:31:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  You know, this is not just an unreasonable (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    encroachment on women's right to choose, it's also an unreasonable impediment on interstate commerce, since the doctors come in from out of state to "conduct commerce," i.e., practice medicine.  And they can only do so because they are licensed in Mississippi, so that state interest in regulating the practice is irrelevant.

    Let them try to wiggle out of some of those commerce precedents too!

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