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Supreme Court Inaction on Miss. TRAP Law Means State's Sole Abortion Clinic Can Remain Open

July 1, 2015 — The Supreme Court has not taken action on a case regarding an antiabortion-rights law (HB 1390) in Mississippi, meaning the state's sole abortion clinic likely can stay open at least until October, the AP/Washington Times reports (Wagster Pettus, AP/Washington Times, 6/30).

Background

The law requires that physicians performing abortions in Mississippi have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. The physicians at Jackson Women's Health Organization sought admitting privileges at multiple hospitals but were denied, prompting the state to order the clinic to close for violating the law.

In July 2014, a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a 2-1 decision that the law would have illegally shifted Mississippi's constitutional obligations to other states by eliminating abortion access inside the state. The ruling did not overturn the law or assess whether the admitting privileges requirement is a justified safety measure. Rather, the ruling preserved an existing stay against the law and left the lower courts to consider the measure under the now-clarified principle of state responsibility.

In August 2014, Mississippi's attorney general asked the full 5th Circuit to review the panel's ruling. The full circuit declined to do so in November 2014, meaning the law remains on hold for now and Jackson Women's Health Organization can remain open while the underlying lawsuit proceeds.

Attorneys representing Jackson Women's Health Organization in April filed a brief asking the Supreme Court to dismiss the state's case in defense of the law (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/24).

Supreme Court Justices Could Decide To Act on Case This Fall

The Supreme Court on Tuesday did not issue an order on the case. According to the AP/Times, the high court will next meet in September to decide which cases it will review in the term that begins in October.

Until then, the high court's inaction on the Mississippi case means that the lower court ruling blocking the law temporarily will remain in place (AP/Washington Times, 6/30).