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Sole Miss. Abortion Clinic Inspected for Compliance With Abortion Law; Other States Targeted

Sole Miss. Abortion Clinic Inspected for Compliance With Abortion Law; Other States Targeted

July 18, 2012 — Mississippi's only abortion clinic was inspected on Monday for compliance with a new law (HB 1390) that requires doctors who provide abortion care to be board certified in obstetrics and gynecology and have admitting privileges at a local hospital, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports.

Diane Derzis, owner of the Jackson Women's Health Organization, said she expects to be cited for not complying because all of the clinic's physicians have not yet obtained the privileges (AP/Sacramento Bee, 7/17).

U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Jordan on Friday lifted an injunction against the law, but he blocked the state from enforcing civil or criminal penalties against the facility while it tries to come into compliance.

Jordan said that allowing the law to take effect would show whether the clinic's doctors could comply, which would affect its constitutionality. The clinic has applied for admitting privileges at seven local hospitals but has not received a response.

If the clinic is forced to close, Mississippi would become the only state without an abortion provider (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/16).

Once the state health department submits its findings, the clinic would have 10 days to respond. If found to be out of compliance, the clinic would have at least 30 days before an administrative hearing, and 30 days after that to appeal if its license is revoked at the hearing. Officials have said it could be up to 10 months before the clinic would close because of noncompliance (AP/Sacramento Bee, 7/17).

Antiabortion Groups Targeting Other States With One Abortion Provider

While the fight over the Mississippi law plays out, abortion-right opponents are pushing similar measures in other states that have only one surgical abortion provider, Politico Pro reports.

Jim Soderna, a spokesperson for Missionaries for the Preborn, said his group is targeting four states in addition to Mississippi -- Arkansas, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming -- with the goal of forcing their last clinics to close. Shawn Carney, a spokesperson for 40 Days for Life, said volunteers in those states hope to bring about "the first abortion-free state where abortion is legal but it's simply not available."

Tammi Kromenaker, director of the only abortion clinic in North Dakota, said, "States with only one provider get a lot of attention from people who are opposed to the care that we offer." Kromenaker said her clinic has faced "legislative attacks in every session of recent history" and that abortion-rights opponents "take it as a success" whenever anything "happens in states where there's only one provider."

Kromenaker and physician Brent Blue, who is the only abortion provider in Wyoming, said they are keeping a close watch on the Mississippi case to see how it could affect their states (Smith, Politico Pro, 7/18).