A Mississippi federal judge ruled yesterday that the state’s only abortion clinic can remain open without garnering penalties while lawmakers decipher how to comply with recently passed requirements. Protests outside the Mississippi abortion clinic grew during the controversial court case involving strict new abortion requirements as residents awaited a ruling in the case which could have closed the doors on the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Fox News reports.
U.S. District Judge Daniel P. Jordan III decided to allow more time for doctors at the Mississippi clinic to attempt to obtain privileges with local hospitals, as required by the new law. Both of the OB-GYNs are out-of-state doctors and have had “difficulty” getting work privileges so patients an be admitted to a local hospital, The Blaze reports. Both pro-life and pro-choice protestors declared victory after the ruling. The Jackson Women’s Health Organization stated during the legal debate that the abortion clinic could be “forced out of business” and make it “nearly impossible” for women in Mississippi to get an abortion if the new requirements were allowed to stand.
The Jackson Women’s Health Organization filed a lawsuit against Mississippi in June attempting to temporarily block the new requirements for becoming law. Doctors would face both civil and criminal penalties if they perform abortions without privileges at a Mississippi hospital under the state’s new abortion requirements.
“We do not yet know whether the clinic will obtain admitting and staff privileges,” the judge wrote. “As both parties stated during the hearing, the resolution of that issue will impact the ultimate issues in this case,” Judge Jordan stated in his Mississippi abortion case ruling.
During a press conference after the abortion decision, Governor Phil Bryant stated he was “gratified” the legal system would now allow the new OB-GYN hospital privileges requirement to take effect. The Mississippi governor also noted that the state would “continue to defend” the “important” measures as the legal process moves forward.
“The federal judge has provided crucial temporary protection for the clinic and its physicians. We will remain vigilant in our fight to ensure the clinic isn’t subject to penalties that would force its doors to close and deprive Mississippi women of their constitutionally-protected rights,” President of the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights Nancy Northup stated after the ruling, according to excerpts republished by The Blaze. The center was a driving force behind the fight to keep the Mississippi abortion clinic open.
The Jackson Women’s Health Organization performs all of the abortions in Mississippi, totaling approximately 2,000 per year.