March 14, 2012 — The Mississippi House on Tuesday approved a bill (HB 1390) that would require physicians who provide abortion care to have admitting privileges at a local hospital, as well as a board certification in obstetrics and gynecology, the AP/NECN reports. The bill was approved 80-37 and now advances to the Senate, where it likely will pass (AP/NECN, 3/13).
Supporters of the measure said it is intended to improve women's health care, while abortion-rights supporters said the real aim is to close the Jackson Women's Health Organization, the state's only abortion clinic (Ward, Reuters, 3/13).
Diane Derzis, president and owner of the clinic, said one of the three abortion providers at the facility has admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and all three are board certified (AP/NECN, 3/13). Many hospitals in the state have refused to grant admitting privileges to physicians who provide abortion care, according to Derzis (Reuters, 3/13).
Derzis said the clinic might be forced to close if the bill becomes law (AP/NECN, 3/13). She pledged to challenge the legislation in court if necessary (Reuters, 3/13).
The Washington Post's "Wonkblog" notes that the legislation reflects a nationwide trend of state measures that aim to restrict access to abortion care by cutting off the supply of abortion providers, rather than reducing demand for the procedure. For example, laws in Kansas and Virginia require special licensing standards and building regulations for abortion clinics (Kliff, "Wonkblog," Washington Post, 3/13).