Legislation passed in 2012 required that OB/GYNs performing abortions in Mississippi had to obtain admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. But three doctors at JWHO couldn't get such privileges because they fly in from out of state. Mississippi doesn't allow hospitals to give admitting privileges to non-residents.
The Fifth Circuit did not overturn the law, but ruled that it could not be used to close the state's last remaining clinic performing abortions because the law would force the clinic to close and unconstitutionally transfer Mississippi's obligations to provide the legal procedure to other states:
“A state cannot lean on its sovereign neighbors to provide protection of its citizens’ federal constitutional rights,” Judge E. Grady Jolly wrote.There's more about this below the fold.
“Pre-viability, a woman has the constitutional right to end her pregnancy by abortion,” he continued. This law “effectively extinguishes that right within Mississippi’s borders.”
Mississippi officials had argued that women seeking abortions could always drive to neighboring states, such as Louisiana or Tennessee, to obtain the procedure, an argument the panel rejected.
In fact, throughout the South, and in other states, laws have been passed or are being considered that require abortion providers to obtain admitting privileges. While some have managed to do so, others have not. These and other restrictive laws have reduced the number of clinics providing abortions from 724 in January 2013 to fewer than 600 today. In 1991, there were more than 2,100 such clinics nationwide.
Alabama, Kansas and Wisconsin have seen their admitting privileges laws temporarily blocked by the federal courts. But similar laws in Missouri, North Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Utah have gone into effect.
Although the ruling in Mississippi represents a victory for women's reproductive rights, it's not broad enough for more than half a hurrah. It certainly will not stop the closing of clinics elsewhere, either because of admitting privileges legislation or other laws, such as requiring clinics to meet strict (and medically unnecessary) building regulations. Nearly half the 40 clinics offering abortions in Texas have been closed in the past year because of the latter requirements.
Lawyers for the forced-birthers may argue in court that they are just trying to make clinics and clinic procedures safer for women. But out of court, they are candid about their real goal: shutting down as many clinics as they can. These crusaders have been at work on undermining women's reproductive rights since five minutes after Roe v. Wade was ruled on four decades ago. We know what the ever-growing number of restrictions means: dead women, maimed women, sterilized women. Yet some people who should know better still think the "war on women" is hyperventilation.