News

You can no longer get an abortion in Mississippi

Earlier this week, a Mississippi judge rejected a request from the clinic -- formally known as the Jackson Women’s Health Organization but sometimes called The Pink House because of its bright paint job -- to temporarily block a law that will ban most abortions in Mississippi.

On Wednesday afternoon, a clinic worker told Reckon they were referring patients to Columbus Women’s Health Organization.

Mississippi passed a so-called trigger law in 2007 saying that abortion would be immediately become illegal in the state in the event the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. In late June, the court did just that with its ruling in a case that began in Mississippi, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

The 2007 law will make all abortions illegal except for cases of rape or to save the life of the mother. The law will go into effect July 7, stopping all abortions in Mississippi at the close of business day Wednesday.

“People in Mississippi who need abortions right now are in a state of panic, trying to get into the clinic before it’s too late,” said Hillary Schneller, an attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, which represented the Mississippi clinic. “No one should be forced to live in fear like that.”

“Without any further action, today will be the last day that Jackson Women’s Health can provide abortion care. That means the last abortion provider in Mississippi will no longer be able to provide essential care to both folks in Mississippi and folks who’ve been traveling across multiple state lines to access this essential care before it’s too late,” she said.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves called the new abortion law “a great victory for life” in response to Tuesday’s ruling.

“This law has the potential to save the lives of thousands of unborn Mississippi children. It is a great victory for life. I also believe it is critical that we showcase to every mother and child that they are loved and that their communities will support them,” Reeves said after the ruling.

The Mississippi clinic was previously embroiled in another high-profile court battle over a 2013 state law requiring all abortion providers to have admitting privileges with a nearby hospital. Federal courts struck down several of these admitting privilege laws, arguing they interfered with the constitutional right to abortion guaranteed under Roe v. Wade. In 2016, a conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up a case that would have allowed the admitting privileges law to take effect and close the Mississippi clinic.

Elsewhere in the South, Florida’s new 15-week abortion ban was blocked but then quickly reinstated Tuesday after an appeal from the state attorney general in a lawsuit challenging the restriction. Judge John C. Cooper issued the order temporarily halting the law after reproductive health providers argued that the state constitution guarantees a right to the procedure. The state quickly appealed his order, automatically putting the law back into effect.

The Florida law makes exceptions if the procedure is necessary to save the pregnant woman’s life, prevent serious injury or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality. It does not allow for exemptions for pregnancies caused by rape, incest or human trafficking.

The law, which went into effect Friday, was passed by the GOP-controlled legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis this spring.

In Louisiana, the state attorney general has asked the state Supreme Court to allow enforcement of a ban on most abortions. Louisiana’s anti-abortion statutes include so-called triggers that were designed to instantly take effect if the U.S. Supreme Court were to reverse abortion rights. But a state judge in New Orleans last week blocked enforcement of the law pending a court hearing on a lawsuit filed by a north Louisiana abortion clinic and others.

The Louisiana suit says the law is unclear on when the ban takes effect and on medical exceptions. The attorney general’s application to the Supreme Court, filed over the holiday weekend and announced Tuesday, says the order blocking enforcement should be dissolved.

The north Louisiana clinic’s attorneys argued in a Tuesday afternoon brief that it’s premature for the high court to get the case before the district judge and an appellate court have had a chance to more fully consider the issues.

Mississippi was one of several states with a trigger law contingent on the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. The law passed in 2007 and has never been challenged in court. It says abortion will be legal only if the pregnant woman’s life is in danger or if a pregnancy is caused by a rape reported to law enforcement. It does not have an exception for pregnancies caused by incest.

Editor’s note: The abortion landscape is evolving rapidly, and our coverage reflects the most up-to-date information we have at the time of publication. Please contact us at rnave@reckonsouth.com if you see anything in our stories that should be updated.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Anna Beahm

Anna Beahm | abeahm@reckonmedia.com

I report on the intersection of religion and sexuality in America. Follow me on Twitter @_AnnaBeahm

The Reckon Report.
Sign up to receive the Reckon Report newsletter in your inbox every Tuesday.