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Mississippi asks 5th circuit to reverse decision overturning law that requires abortionists to have admitting privileges

by | Aug 14, 2014

 

By Dave Andrusko

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood

On Wednesday the attorney general for the state of Mississippi asked the full 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold a 2012 law requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges, a law struck down in July by a divided three-judge panel.

Attorney General Jim Hood filed papers asking the 15-member circuit to overturn the decision and allow Mississippi to enforce HB 1390.

The Mississippi law is part of a constellation of pro-life laws taken to court by the Center for Reproductive Rights and the ACLU.

A different three-judge panel unanimously upheld a similar Texas law while a U.S. District judge struck down a comparable Alabama law.

Pro-abortionists are trying to re-litigate the Texas decision simultaneously with challenging that part of Texas’ HB 2 that requires that abortions be performed in ambulatory surgical centers.

When the panel overturned the Mississippi law, its decision rested largely on the fact that the impact would be to shut down the state’s lone abortion clinic. The dissenting judge, Judge Emilio Garza, artfully showed the flaws in the majority’s opinion. The contention was this constituted an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to abortion.

Among other points the judges made in the Texas case was that

“The evidence presented to the district court [Judge Lee Yeakel] demonstrates that if the admitting privileges regulation burdens abortion access by diminishing the number of doctors who will perform abortions and requiring women to travel farther, the burden does not fall on the vast majority of Texas women seeking abortions. Put otherwise, the regulation will not affect a significant (much less ‘large’) fraction of such women [women seeking abortions in a given area of Texas], and it imposes on other women in Texas less of a burden than the waiting-period provisions upheld” in the Supreme Court’s “Casey” decision

According to the Associated Press, “Hood wrote that under 5th Circuit panels’ rulings in the Mississippi and Texas cases, ‘traveling 25 miles from Hernando, Mississippi, to a clinic in Memphis, Tennessee, is an undue burden, but a 150-mile trip from McAllen, Texas, to Corpus Christi is not. This result is not only counterintuitive, but also flatly contradicts the reality that the majority of women in Mississippi already travel to other states to obtain abortions.’”

The AP reporter then snippily added, “Hood’s filing did not provide statistics to back up the assertion that most Mississippi women who have an abortion go out of state for the procedure.”

Statistics for 2011 from the Mississippi State Department of Health show that 3,188 Mississippi women had abortions in other states, compared to 2,224 in Mississippi.