Sole Miss. Abortion Clinic Adds Extra Staff in Fight To Stay Open

September 5, 2012 — Mississippi's only abortion clinic has hired two extra staff members to handle paperwork related to 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, Politico Pro reports. However, every hospital that has responded to the clinic's applications for its doctors to obtain admitting privileges has denied the requests so far (Smith, Politico Pro, 8/31).

U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Jordan in July lifted an injunction against the law, but he blocked the state from enforcing civil or criminal penalties against the Jackson Women's Health Organization 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 (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/18).

Although all three of the clinic's doctors are board certified, only one has admitting privileges. The doctors have applied for admitting privileges at several local hospitals.

Diane Derzis, owner of the clinic, said some hospitals said that allowing the privileges is not worth the negative attention from antiabortion activists. "The hospitals are even saying this as part of the rejection: 'We don't need this, we're not equipped to handle this,'" she said.

Derzis also suggested that hospitals would be less inclined to grant privileges to the two doctors because they live out of state. Additionally, the hospitals have little financial incentive to grant privileges to doctors who rarely would admit patients, she said.

"Each application was at least 50 pages long," she noted, adding that the two new staffers worked on the issues "for months" (Politico Pro, 8/31).