Mississippi's lone abortion clinic still stands, for now

by Karen L. Willoughby |

(BBC/screen capture)After viewing an ultrasound image of her unborn child, a young woman tells a BBC reporter, "The thought of me carrying a baby full term and then thinking about giving it away, I couldn't bear that ... but then bringing into this world a baby I couldn't take care of, I can't live with that either." She chose to kill the baby instead.

JACKSON, Miss. (Christian Examiner) – Citing conflicting rulings from different panels of judges representing the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the state of Mississippi has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the legality of a state law requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals in order to operate.

The Feb. 18 request will affect the Jackson Women's Health Organization, the last abortion clinic in the state.

The 2012 regulation is similar to laws enacted by Alabama, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas and Wisconsin.

A federal appeals court allowed an admitting privileges law to go into effect in Texas, which shut down a third of the abortion clinics in the state. But a panel selected from among 5th Circuit judges told Mississippi its law was unconstitutional, citing a Jim Crow-era law protecting people's civil rights.

Mississippi argued abortion clinics in Alabama, Louisiana and Tennessee would be nearer to many women than the one in Jackson, which is in the very center of the state.

However, Alabama and Louisiana have passed admitting privileges laws that threaten their abortion clinics with closure, too, although both are tied up in litigation about their regulations.

Last year, the Supreme Court decided against hearing an appeal from Wisconsin on its admitting privileges law, which the 7th Circuit said could be unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has not considered a major abortion case since 2007.

Abortion supporters are hoping the Supreme Court does not intervene now.

"There is no reason for the U.S. Supreme Court to step into this case," said Nancy Northrup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which represents the abortion clinic. "The court should decline to review the sound determination that Mississippi women would be irreparably harmed if the state were allowed to close its last clinic."