The only abortion clinic left in the state of Mississippi is barely hanging onto life after a federal judge extended Wednesday a temporary order to block the state's new abortion law from taking effect.
U.S. District Judge Daniel Jordan III ordered an indefinite injunction that allows Jackson Women's Health Organization, the only abortion clinic left in Mississippi, to keep its doors open while he examines documents by the Mississippi Department of Health on how the new law will be implemented.
The law was supposed to take effect on July 1, but Jordan had put an injunction in place. The law requires doctors performing abortions to be OB-GYNs and to have privileges at a local hospital. Jackson Women's Health Organization mostly has doctors from other states come to the clinic to perform abortions, making it difficult for its out-of-state doctors to obtain privileges at local hospitals.
Rep. Sam Mims, the bill's sponsor, argues that the strict requirements are beneficial because they ensure that women obtaining an abortion are performed on by certified physicians, and in case emergency medical care is needed, it also guarantees the responsible doctor can accompany the patient to the local hospital.
Mims emphasized that the issue is protecting women's health and not an anti-abortion agenda.
The clinic's owner, Diane Derzis, says she is trying to get local hospitals to allow the out-of-state doctors privileges to their facility, but so far she has been met without success.
Everything now hinges on Judge Jordan's order – whether he will permanently block the law or lift the injunction and force the clinic to shut down if it can't meet the requirements. If the clinic is shut down, Mississippi will be the first state in the nation to have no abortion clinics.
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant has said he hopes the new law will make the state "abortion-free."