Jackson Women's Health Organization
The forced-birther law now on Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant's desk awaiting his eager signature will probably close the state's only abortion clinic. But it won't end abortion there. We know from history that desperate women will get abortions however they can, self-administered, or from someone—skilled or not, for free or a price—willing to do it for them. That means maimed and dead women. But this doesn't matter to these twisted crusaders. Just as taking care of children who are born into deep poverty, born deformed, born with an inevitably shortened life-span doesn't matter to them. Zygotes matter. Walking, talking, breathing children make no never mind to them.
Perverse doesn't cover it.
Once, 15 years ago, Mississippi had six clinics providing abortions. But medically unnecessary regulations and harassment and threats closed them down one by one. Since 2004, there has been only such clinic, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization. It has been under siege from forced-birthers for all those years. But its owner and community supporters have kept it open no matter what angle its foes tried.
On its staff are three board-certified OB/GYNs. The clinic has a transfer agreement with a local hospital that would automatically admit any patient who needed medical help from complications of an abortion.
Not good enough for the lawmakers of Mississippi.
The bill they passed overwhelmingly, HB 1390, would require abortions to be performed only by OB/GYNs who have admitting privileges at a local hospital. Just one of the Jackson clinic's OB/GYNs has such privileges. The others cannot obtain them.
Because Mississippi won't allow admitting privileges for out-of-state physicians. Why do these doctors live out of state? To protect themselves. They have been threatened and stalked, says the clinic's owner, Diane Derzis. One of those stalkers and threateners could very well turn out to be another "pro-life" assassin who would murder them the way other abortion providers have been murdered.
The owner says the clinic cannot operate with just one OB/GYN on staff.
This makes matters oh-so-convenient to the woman-hating majority of the Mississippi legislature. Just write up a statute specifically to shut down the last remaining place in the state where women can obtain a legal medical procedure. Targeted Regulation of Abortion Provider laws aren't new, of course. The forced birthers have been pushing such efforts for decades. But requiring admitting privileges is a relatively new tactic that has been passed in several states. Mississippi's law will have a greater impact than others because of the unusual circumstances of the Jackson clinic.
Derzis has said she may sue.
The anti-abortion forces are relentless. You can expect one of their next efforts to be pushing states to pass laws saying only residents of that state can obtain abortions. If Louisiana were to pass such a law, a Mississippi woman without a local option for the procedure could not go to, say, New Orleans to exercise her legal rights.
As always, women of affluence will have no trouble getting an abortion. They can fly wherever they must, to saner states or even outside the country as they once did before Roe v. Wade. This Mississippi law, like all such forced-birther statutes, will harm women but especially poor women. Will, in fact, kill poor women. But the legislators complicit in those deaths will accept no responsibility for them. Because, despite all their "pro-life" rhetoric, they just don't care.