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Judge Allows Mississippi’s Only Abortion Clinic to Remain Open for Now

Mississippi's only abortion clinic has applied for admission to seven hospitals to meet the requirements of a new House Bill, but has received no replies.

Mississippi's only abortion clinic is safe for now, as U.S. District Judge Daniel P. Jordan III extended the temporary restraining order against a law that could shut it down.
House Bill 1390, which passed on April 4 and was to take effect on July 1, requires abortion providers to be certified OB-GYNs with admitting privileges at a local hospital.
The Jackson Women’s Health Clinic and the Center for Reproductive Rights sued the state claiming that the law is unconstitutional. In response, Jordan issued a temporary restraining order on July 1 and scheduled a hearing within 10 days, which took place Wednesday afternoon.
Although supporters for the ALCU and Pro-Life organizations were present, Jordan reminded the courtroom that “this is a court of law, not a political debate."
At the time of Wednesday’s hearing, the clinic had not heard from any of the seven hospitals within a 30-mile radius to which it had submitted applications, according to owner Diane Derzis. The clinic has already been rejected from St. Dominic’s, a religious hospital in the Jackson area, who said the clinic need not apply.
Michelle Movahed from the Center for Reproductive Rights is assisting in the case of The Jackson Women’s Health Organization vs. Mary Currier. Currier, the Mississippi State Health Officer, is charged with implementing the bill.
Movahed said the bill has caused irreparable harm and the clinic has no guarantee whether it is subject to prosecution by continuing to operate. Jordan disagreed with her notion.
Movahed also argued the law “poses an undue burden” on women in Mississippi who seek to terminate their pregnancy. Opponents of the bill have said the law will prevent women from having abortions that cannot afford to travel outside of the state.
Benjamin Bryant, representing the state from the Attorney General’s office, argued that “inconvenience does not impose on a woman’s right to abortion.”
Both Movahed and Bryant countered each other stating they have affidavits from doctors expressing opposing views of the law.
Jordan said both sides have a different view of what is in the state’s best interest. The plaintiff’s belief in a woman’s constitutional right to have an abortion will eventually have to be weighed against the state’s interest in protecting the unborn, Jordan said.
Currently, the clinic only has one physician, Dr. Carl Reddix, who is a certified OB-GYN with admitting privileges. However, Reddix does not perform abortions. Earlier this year, he was fired from the State Board of Health by Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves. Reddix’s ties with the clinic were cited as the reason for his dismissal.
Jordan did not indicate how long the temporary restraining order will last.