Last Abortion Clinic in Mississippi Struggling to Stay Open

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 11, 2012   |   11:44AM   |   Jackson, MS

Thanks to numerous pro-life laws approved over the years, Mississippi is down to just one abortion business and it is now struggling to stay open because it is having difficulty complying with another new pro-life provision.

The state legislature, earlier this year, approved a measure that abortion backers strongly opposed because it could result in stopping abortions at the last remaining abortion facility in the state, making it the first abortion-free state in the country. The law, which goes into effect July 1, requires abortion practitioners to have admitting privileges at a local hospital in case a botched abortion requires a woman to be immediately hospitalized.

The Jackson Women’s Health Organization abortion facility is having a hard time securing admitting privileges for the three abortion practitioners it employs, as the Clarion Ledger newspaper reports:

Clinic officials have applied at every eligible medical center in the Jackson metropolitan and surrounding areas, said Betty Thompson, a spokeswoman with the abortion clinic. “We’re leaving no stone unturned,” she said.

Diane Derzis is the owner of the clinic and others in Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama. Her facility in Birmingham was recently forced to surrender its license after two patients were given an overdose of a drug designed to prevent blood loss.

Derzis was not available for comment because she is caring for her ailing mother, Thompson said.

“We’re trying to comply,” Thompson said of the new law, “and we’re hoping something good will come from that.”

All of the clinic’s three abortion providers are obstetrician gynecologists. One lives in Mississippi, another lives elsewhere and the third splits time between Mississippi and another state. f they are denied privileges, Thompson said Derzis is prepared to challenge the new law in court.

The abortion clinic is meeting with opposition from religious-affiliated hospitals that don’t want to allow an abortion practitioner to have admitting rights and the University of Mississippi Medical Center has a detailed process that the abortion clinic may not be able to complete by the July 1 date for the new law.

Requiring abortion practitioners to have such admitting privileges is not new and the state of Indiana has pursued them because of problems with botched abortions.

Because so many women suffer from botched abortions that require immediate follow-up medical care, local officials approved what it said is a needed ordinance. It requires any abortion practitioners coming to Fort Wayne from out of town to inform a local hospital because they would not have proper admitting privileges to admit women who are victimized by failed abortions and need immediate medical care.

A judge issued a ruling that pro-life groups said was favorable for the much-needed law. Alliance Defense Fund attorneys representing Allen County say the court order the judge issued denies most of abortion practitioner George Klopfer’s motion to stop critical aspects of the new Patient Safety Ordinance.

ADF tells that means those provisions can go into effect and that the door is open for other Indiana counties to enact similar legislation.

“A patient’s health is more important than an abortionist’s bottom line,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Steven H. Aden.

“The county simply can’t put the health and safety of patients at risk because one man wants to perform abortions without a sensible safety precaution that applies to all out-of-town physicians, not just abortionists,” he said. “The ordinance is very clearly designed to make sure that patients receive appropriate treatment in a medical emergency that can arise after an itinerant physician has gone back home and is no longer available to care for the patient.”



Dr. Geoff Cly, a Fort Wayne gynecologist who has treated several of a local abortion practitioner’s patients after failed abortions, told the Fort Wayne newspaper at the time the bill is needed.

“I’m disappointed because patients are being harmed and the powers that be aren’t taking action to protect the women,” Cly said. “How can we hold him accountable like the rest of surgeons? Admission privileges are one way. If anyone has any other ways, let me know.”

According to Americans United for Life, a national pro-life group that promotes state legislation, abortion practitioners in eleven states are required to maintain local hospital admitting privileges. These states include Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah.