Mississippi’s all-out assault on women’s reproductive freedom might be coming to a head as Governor Phil Bryant vies to shut down the state’s only remaining abortion clinic, thereby making Mississippi the nation’s first “abortion-free” state.
After an inspection by Health Department workers on January 16th, it was determined that the clinic staff had not complied with a 2012 state law that requires anyone providing abortion services to be an OB-GYN with hospital admitting privileges. But the Mississippi state legislature passed the 2012 TRAP law knowing full well that the Jackson Women’s Health Organization would not be able to comply with its unnecessary, hyper-specific restrictions. The entire scheme was rigged from the start.
It probably won’t surprise you to learn that local hospital admitting privileges are notoriously and deliberately difficult for Mississippi abortion providers to obtain. Most of the physicians who perform abortions at the clinic travel from out-of-state, a fact which many state hospitals use as justification to deny them hospital admitting privileges. Meanwhile, religiously affiliated hospitals often refuse to associate with anyone who performs elective abortions.
Unsurprisingly, the Mississippi TRAP law’s anti-choice supporters claim that this stringent requirement is intended to protect women’s safety. If that were true, you would think a hospital or two would deign to grant the clinic’s physicians hospital admitting privileges, no? The truth of the matter is that Mississippi’s TRAP law was intentionally crafted to make compliance impossible.
To add insult to injury, the Health Department inspectors also noted that the clinic had failed to comply with an arbitrary requirement in the TRAP law stipulating that the clinic be “located in an attractive setting with sufficient parking space provided.” Apparently the clinic’s parking lot, which holds fewer than 20 cars, was deemed “insufficient” under the new state law (as if having 21 parking spots would magically increase the quality and safety of the care provided inside the clinic).
Under a state administrative procedures law, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization can remain open while it aways a hearing by the state’s Health Department. However, it seems quite possible that Mississippi will manage to become the first state to regulate abortion providers out of of business.
Mississippi legislators would do well to remember that the closure of the Jackson Women’s Health Organization will not make the state “abortion-free.” Inevitably, some Mississippi women who find themselves without access to abortion care will find other means to terminate unwanted pregnancies, including dangerous back-alley abortions from unlicensed providers and harmful, black-market drugs from shady online vendors. Mississippi already boasts the highest infant mortality rate and the 3rd highest maternal mortality rate in the nation. In their quest to legislatively impose their anti-choice religious agenda on the population at large, Mississippi’s legislators have made their state a dangerous place to be a woman. How’s that for being ‘pro-life?’