A federal judge has blocked parts of a law that would effectively force Missisippi’s one remaining abortion clinic to shut down. However, the judge allowed certain restrictions of the MS legislature’s new abortion-restricitng law to remain. MS had passed a law, which went into effect July 1, that required doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at a local hospital. OB/GYNs at the Jackson Women’s Health Organization have applied for such privileges, but have not yet been granted them. Last week, a federal judge said the doctors need to acquire their admitting privileges but while they do so, they will not be subject to punishment for breaking the law.
The larger issue at hand, The New York Times reports, is whether the new law is fundamentally attempting to stop abortions in MS altogether. The clinic is arguing that’s what the law intends; supporters of the law claim they are only trying to make abortion safer, although there is no evidence to suggest that admitting privileges at a local hospital are truly necessary. (Ironic, since criminalizing abortion only forces it to go underground, which is certainly less safe.) In his order on Friday, the federal judge decided last week he has to give the Jackson Women’s Health Organization the opportunity to comply with the law by following through with the administrative process before he can assess.
For now, the clinic will continue to operate under the temporary restraining order enacted at the start of the month. I’ll continue to watch this story with great interest.