NRL News

5th Circuit to hear Mississippi law requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges in local hospital in April

by | Mar 24, 2014


By Dave Andrusko

Jackson Women's Health Organization owner Diane Derzis (Associated Press)

Jackson Women’s Health Organization owner Diane Derzis (Associated Press)

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has notified both sides that it will hear oral arguments April 28 in a lawsuit brought against a 2012 Mississippi law that requires abortionists to have local hospital admitting privileges.

The lawsuit was brought by the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the state’s lone abortion clinic which is owned by the flamboyant Diane Derzis (see;; and

The state of Mississippi is asking the 5th Circuit to overturn the district judge’s ruling that allowed the clinic to continue operating. The 5th Circuit, based in New Orleans, handles cases from Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

In January a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit heard oral arguments in a lawsuit brought against two sections of a Texas pro-life law. One of those requires that abortionists have admitting privileges to a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion clinic.

As we reported at the time, “The consensus among media accounts is that judges Jennifer Walker Elrod, Catharina Haynes, and Edith Jones were skeptical of the plaintiff’s arguments made on behalf of Planned Parenthood and a number of abortionists by Janet Crepps, a lawyer for the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights.”

The Mississippi case has dragged on and on. In its account today, The Associated Press wrote that “U.S. District Judge Daniel P. Jordan III, in Jackson, allowed the law [HB 1390] to take effect but blocked the state from closing the clinic while it seeks to comply with the law,” which is true as far as it goes.

HB 1390 was originally set to go into effect July 1, 2012, but at the eleventh hour Judge Jordan temporarily blocked Mississippi from enforcing the law. He later extended the temporary restraining order (TRO) a second time. Judge Jordan subsequently blocked any civil or criminal penalties against the Jackson Women’s Health Organization and its employees. The effect of Judge Jordan’s decision is to enjoin the state of Mississippi from enforcing the admitting privileges requirement of HB 1390 while the clinic’s lawsuit proceeds.

Pro-lifers say the requirement is needed to protect women. Prior to the issuance of the first TRO, Mississippi State Representative Sam Mims, who sponsored HB 1390, explained in an interview with CNN, “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.”

The Jackson Women’s Health Organization’s lawsuit against HB 1390 originally was set to go to trial March 3 in Judge Jordan’s court. However last August the state asked that the case be moved to the 5th Circuit.

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Categories: Judicial Legislation