The operators of Mississippi's sole abortion clinic appeared in federal court Monday to fight a 2012 state law that would force its closure—which would make Mississippi the first state in the 41 years since Roe v. Wade to not have an abortion provider.
Jackson Women's Health Organization is challenging HB 1390, which stipulates that all physicians in the state who perform abortions have admitting privileges at hospitals. Although doctors at the bright-pink colored clinic have repeatedly applied for privileges, they have been denied for reasons ranging from religion to desire to avoid controversy.
"Some we received no response from, but the ones that we did, they made reference to the fact that because the care we provide is related to abortion, they felt it might be disruptive to the internal politics, as well as the external politics, for the hospital," Dr. Willie Parker, a plaintiff in the case, told NPR. Parker files to Jackson from Chicago every week to be one of two doctors to perform the abortions.
A different three-judge panel in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a similar law in Texas last year, causing one-third of its clinics to close.
Lawyers on both sides have been arguing about the constitutionality of the law.
"Women across the state will be plunged back into the dark days of back-alley procedures that Roe was supposed to end," Julie Rikelmann, an attorney with the Center for Reproductive Rights fighting on behalf of the clinic, said in a statement. “This is a blatant violation of women’s constitutional rights and an imminent danger to their health and well-being."
"It seems to me you've got a steep hill to climb when you say the only clinic in the state is closing," Judge E. Grady Jolly told attorney Paul Barnes of the Mississippi Attorney General's Office, the Associated Press reports. But Barnes told the three-judge panel that while the Supreme Court says the constitution allows for the right to an abortion, it doesn't allow for the right on an unsafe one.