On April 6, our Red State Round Up: Mississippi focused on a bill that passed in the Mississippi Senate that would require abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. At the time we mentioned that this could effectively shut down the only abortion clinic in the state; the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, since it only has one doctor with admitting privileges. The other two physicians live outside the state of Mississippi due to safety concerns. The unnecessary bill’s clear purpose is to take away access to abortions.
This past week, the bill was set to go into effect, making Mississippi the first state in the nation with zero abortion access. However, after the Jackson Women’s Health Organization filed a lawsuit, claiming that admitting privileges were medically unnecessary and designed to run the clinic out of business, the law was temporarily blocked.
U.S. District Judge Daniel P. Jordan issued the temporary restraining order on the law on July 1; the day the law was set to go into effect. Judge Jordan cited the precedent of legalized abortion in granting the temporary restraining order, acknowledging the law would effectively ban abortions in Mississippi. He also set a July 11 hearing at which time it will be determined if the law will be blocked for a longer period of time or go into effect.
The issue with this law is broader than its devastating potential effects in Mississippi. It strikes at the heart of what it would mean if more states chose to make abortion completely inaccessible. If Mississippi had no abortion access, women would have to travel across state boarders to have access, making the trip exceedingly expensive and prohibitive in one of the poorest states in our country. Not surprisingly, Mississippi also has the highest rate of teenage pregnancies in the United States.
Also, fewer people today remember when abortion was illegal in our country and the devastating consequences of its illegality to women and families. As NARAL Pro-Choice America states, “The legalization of abortion in the United States led to the near elimination of deaths from the procedure. Between 1973 and 1997, the mortality rate associated with legal abortion procedures declined from 4.1 to 0.6 per 100,000 abortions. The American Medical Association’s Council on Scientific Affairs credits the shift from illegal to legal abortion services as an important factor in the decline of the abortion-related death rate after Roe v. Wade.” A country or even states without legal abortion access would see a return to higher maternal mortality and severe injuries to women who attempt illegal, back alley abortions. In Idaho, for example, Jennie Linn McCormack’s story may end up the norm for women in tough situations in the United States if access is restricted and women and families cannot control their reproductive lives.
That is why it is imperative that we continue to fight restrictive legislation such as the Mississippi law. We wait with baited breath for the July 11 hearing and can only hope that and advocate for our court system to do what our legislative system has failed to do: make sure that women’s rights are protected.