A new Mississippi law regulating abortion providers went into effect this weekend. It will likely shut down the state's sole abortion clinic. The clinic has sued the state in an effort to stay open.
The new law requires doctors performing abortions to be OB-GYN's and to have privileges at the local hospital. The state's abortion clinic, Jackson Women's Health Organization (JWHO), has three doctors, all OB-GYN's, but only one has privileges at the local hospital. The other two are seeking to obtain privileges, but have not heard back.
Rep. Sam Mims, the state legislator who sponsored the bill, told CNN it was necessary to make sure that all women receiving an abortion in Mississippi is attended by a certified physician, and, in the event that something goes wrong, the physician would be able to accompany them to the local hospital.
In the lawsuit, JWHO claims that the law in an unconstitutional restriction on a woman's right to an abortion by imposing requirements that are unjustified.
Some lawmakers who supported the bill said they hoped it would lead to Mississippi becoming the nation's only state without an abortion provider.
"We have an opportunity today with the signing of this bill to end abortion in Mississippi," said Mississippi Lt. Governor Tate Reeves, during the bill's signing ceremony.
Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant called the bill "the first step in a movement ... to end abortion in Mississippi," at the same event.
Mississippi has already passed other restrictions on abortion. There is a 24-hour waiting period and minors need parental consent.
Last November, there was a ballot initiative to define life as beginning at conception, known as the "personhood amendment," but 55 percent of Mississippi voters rejected that measure. Pro-lifers have been deeply divided over whether "personhood amendments" are beneficial to the cause.
The Mississippi Department of Health will inspect JWHO on Monday to make sure it is in compliance with the new law.