June 28, 2012 — Mississippi's sole abortion clinic on Wednesday filed a lawsuit to block a new law (HB 1390) that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a local hospital and be board certified in obstetrics and gynecology, Reuters reports.
If the clinic cannot meet the requirements and has to close, Mississippi would become the only state without an abortion provider. The measure is set to take effect on July 1 (Le Coz, Reuters, 6/27).
The suit, which seeks a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction, argues that enforcing the law would cause irreparable harm and violate women's right to an abortion (Deprez/Schoenberg, Bloomberg Businessweek, 6/27).
Although the physicians who provide abortion care at the clinic began applying for admitting privileges soon after the bill was signed into law in mid-April, clinic owner Diane Derzis said there was not "adequate time for the privileges to come through." She added, "We've not been turned down outright, except on a few hospitals that had religious beliefs that didn't coincide" (Reuters, 6/27).
The suit states, "The [health] department's actions jeopardize patient health, because they will effectively ban abortion in the state of Mississippi, leaving women with nowhere to turn." It adds that the law imposes "medically unjustified requirements" to support a policy goal (Bloomberg Businessweek, 6/27).
Liz Sharlot, a spokesperson for the Mississippi Department of Health, said state officials plan to inspect the clinic on July 2. If it fails the inspection, the clinic will have 10 working days to develop a plan explaining how it will comply within a "reasonable" time frame (Reuters, 6/27).
The department plans to "assure that this law is enforced in the same manner as we enforce all of our other state and federal health regulations and statutes for any health care facility in the state," she added (Wagster Pettus, AP/Miami Herald, 6/27).