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Federal Judge Grants Miss. Abortion Clinic Temporary Reprieve From Admitting Privileges Law

Federal Judge Grants Miss. Abortion Clinic Temporary Reprieve From Admitting Privileges Law

April 16, 2013 — A federal judge on Monday issued a temporary order blocking enforcement of a Mississippi law (HB 1390) that could close the state's sole abortion clinic, the New York Times reports. The order will allow the clinic to remain open while the judge considers the constitutionality of the law, which requires physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital (Robertson, New York Times, 4/15).

The clinic -- Jackson Women's Health Organization -- missed a Jan. 11 deadline to comply with the law after hospitals in the area rejected its applications for admitting privileges. In March, the clinic received notice of an April 18 license revocation hearing before the state Department of Health (Women's Health Policy Report, 3/1).

In a lawsuit filed last year, the clinic argued that the law is unconstitutional and a thinly disguised attempt to shut down the state's only abortion provider. Last July, U.S. District Judge Daniel Jordan ruled that the clinic should try to comply with the law as long as it was allowed to remain open.

Details of Latest Ruling

In his order on Monday, Jordan wrote, "Closing [the clinic's] doors would -- as the state seems to concede in this argument -- force Mississippi women to leave Mississippi to obtain a legal abortion." He added that the state's position in the case "would result in a patchwork system where constitutional rights are available in some states but not in others" (New York Times, 4/15).

Nancy Northup -- president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is representing the clinic -- said in a statement, "While the women of Mississippi may be able to breathe a collective sigh of relief today, this fight is far from over" (Bailey, Reuters, 4/16).