GOP-Appointed Judge to Hear Miss. Abortion Law Case

A Republican-appointed federal judge, who last week temporarily blocked enforcement of a Mississippi law that could shut down the state's only abortion clinic, will hear arguments on Wednesday about whether to block the law for a longer time.

At Wednesday's hearing, U.S. District Judge Daniel P. Jordan III, a former GOP county chairman, will hear arguments about whether to extend the temporary block he put on the law regulating abortion providers on July 1, the day it was to take effect.

The hearing is in response to a June 27 lawsuit filed by Jackson Women's Health Organization (JWHO), the only abortion clinic in the state, claiming the law would regulate the facility out of business and limit women's access to a constitutionally protected procedure, according to The Associated Press.

The law requires doctors performing abortions to be OB-GYN's and to have privileges at the local hospital. JWHO has three doctors, all OB-GYN's, but only one has privileges at the local hospital.

Attorneys see Jordan, who was recommended for the bench in 2006 by Republican Sen. Trent Lott and nominated by President George W. Bush, as ideologically neutral.

"Some judges play politics, but that's one who does not," attorney John Reeves, a Republican former state lawmaker, was quoted as saying. "Judge Jordan doesn't have any agenda. His only agenda, from what I can tell, is to follow the law."

In September 2011, Jordan denied a plea by the Copiah County School District to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a lesbian teenager challenging the district's refusal to run the senior picture she had taken in a tuxedo.

Dana Chisholm, president of Pro-Life Mississippi, is disappointed with the temporary blocking of the law's enforcement. "It never seems like justice is on our side," Chisholm was quoted as saying.

However, Laurie Roberts, state president of the National Organization for Women, said if the law goes into effect, women who can't afford to travel hundreds of miles for an abortion might decide to end unwanted pregnancies. "We're already in an area of the country where women have a hard time having access to legal, safe abortion."

Rep. Sam Mims, who sponsored the bill, has said the law ensures that all women receiving an abortion are 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.

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.

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.