Attorneys Want Supreme Court to Block Law That Would Close Mississippi’s Only Abortion Clinic

State   |   Sarah Zagorski   |   Apr 29, 2015   |   6:18PM   |   Jackson, MS

In 2014, a federal appeals court stopped Mississippi’s admitting privileges law (H.B. 1390) because it would close down the state’s only abortion facility. The lower court said that since the law would make Mississippi residents travel out of state for abortions, it placed undue burden on women. Currently, the only abortion facility in Mississippi is Jackson Women’s Health Organization (JWHO) (pictured).

Writing for the majority, Judge E. Grady Jolly stated: “Mississippi may not shift its obligation to respect the established constitutional rights of its citizens to another state. Such a proposal would not only place an undue burden on the exercise of the constitutional right, but would also disregard a state’s obligation under the principle of federalism—applicable to all fifty states—to accept the burden of the non-delegable duty of protecting the established federal constitutional rights of its own citizens.”

Now, according to the Sun Herald, attorneys for the abortion facility are asking the U.S. Supreme Court not to review the lower court’s ruling that is keeping the facility open. On April 23rd, attorneys for the abortion facility wrote in a filling that this case “does not squarely present the question of whether admitting privileges requirements in general are constitutional.” Instead, they argued that Texas’ admitting privileges law is different than Mississippi’s because it didn’t close down all their abortion facilities.

They wrote, “To the contrary, the 5th Circuit has upheld a different state’s admitting privileges law, when the consequences of that law would not have resulted in the closing of every abortion clinic in the state. If the (Supreme) Court would like to consider the constitutionality of admitting privileges laws generally, it should await a case that presents that question.”

Additionally, they argued that Mississippi abortionists perform “similar or less safe surgical procedures in their offices,” such as colonoscopy, hernia repair and hemorrhoid removal, which do not require hospital admitting privileges.

Diane Derzis, the owner of JWHO said that no Jackson-area hospital would grant admitting privileges to the out-of-state doctors who work at the facility.

However, pro-life advocates disagree. In February, State Attorney General Jim Hood filed papers asking the Supreme Court to overturn the appeals court’s ruling. He argued that the 5th Circuit decision “effectively places the clinic beyond the regulatory reach of the state.”

Hood wrote, “Mississippi was one of many states to enact an admitting privileges requirement for abortion doctors, but there are two important distinctions in Mississippi: for several years Mississippi had already required doctors performing outpatient procedures other than abortion to hold admitting privileges, and Mississippi currently has only one licensed abortion clinic, which complains that it cannot comply with a rational health and safety regulation.”

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As LifeNews previously reported, one of the primary abortionists employed by JWHO owner Diane Derzis is Bruce Elliot Norman who was caught by pro-life activists operating an illegal abortion business with Derzis in Birmingham, Alabama.

Elliot was also responsible for sending three abortion patients to the hospital on the same day in January, 2012, that resulted in complaints to the Alabama Department of Public Health by pro-life groups, including Operation Rescue, CEC for Life, and Life Legal Defense Foundation. Those complaints prompted an inspection of Derzis and Norman’s abortion facility where 76 pages of serious violations were discovered.

Derzis’ and Norman’s shoddy abortion practices are replicated in Jackson, Mississippi, where Operation Rescue has documented a long history of incompetent abortionists and abortion-related injuries, including one last August.

Norman and other abortionists hired by Derzis do not live in Mississippi. Currently, they travel to Mississippi to do abortions, then leave the state. Experts have testified that this has practice leaves women to fend for themselves when complications arise and can delay emergency care in the event of a life-threatening complication.