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Federal Judge Issues Temporary Restraining Order against New Mississippi Abortion Clinic Law

by | Jul 3, 2012

By Dave Andrusko

Mississippi State Representative Sam Mims

At the eleventh hour, a federal judge Sunday temporarily blocked Mississippi from enforcing HB 1390, a new law intended to protect women’s health by requiring abortionists not only to be certified in obstetrics and gynecology but also have admitting privileges at a local hospital.

U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Jordan, who entered the temporary restraining order, set a hearing for July 11 to determine whether it should be extended. The law had been challenged by the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) on behalf of the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the state’s sole abortion clinic. HB 1390 was set to go into effect on Sunday.

Jordan cited quotes by state officials who said (he wrote) “that the Act’s purpose is to eliminate abortions in Mississippi” and accepted CRR’s contention that  “no safety or health concerns motivated [the law’s] passage.”

State Representative Sam Mims, who sponsored HB 1390, disagreed. In an interview with CNN prior to the issuance of the temporary restraining order, he said, “I think the intent is to make sure that women who are receiving these abortions are receiving abortions by a professional physician who is certified.” He added, “If something goes wrong, which it might — we hope it doesn’t, but it could — that physician could follow the patient to a local hospital. That’s the intent.”

Mims added that he is “very pro-life,” and that “I believe life begins at conception. And I think a lot of Mississippians do, as well. If this legislation causes less abortions, then that’s a good thing.”

A spokesman for pro-life governor Phil Bryant said, “The federal judge’s decision is disappointing, and Governor Bryant plans to work with state leaders to ensure this legislation properly takes effect as soon as possible.” Mick Bullock added, “The federal judge’s decision is disappointing, and Governor Bryant plans to work with state leaders to ensure this legislation properly takes effect as soon as possible.”

There were 2,297 abortions performed in Mississippi in 2010, according to data on the State Health Department’s Web site.

“Mississippi physicians who perform fewer than 10 abortions a month can avoid having their offices regulated as an abortion clinic, and thus avoid restrictions in the new law,” the Associated Press reported. “The Health Department said it doesn’t have a record of how many physicians perform fewer than 10 abortions a month.”

Although pro-abortionists insisted that the Jackson Women’s Health Organization would have been forced to close down immediately, this is not true. The lawsuit is filed against Dr. Mary Currier, the head of the state Health Department, and Department spokeswoman Liz Sharlot told the Associated Press prior to the injunction, “[W]e will assure that this law is enforced in the same manner as we enforce all of our other state and federal health regulations and statutes for any health care facility in this state.”

Sharlot added, according to the AP, that “any health facility in Mississippi is given time to comply with state laws or regulations, including 30 days to appeal if a license is revoked.”

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