New rules for Miss. abortion doctors could shut last clinic

JACKSON, Miss. — Abortion will still be legal in Mississippi next month. Women who live there, however, probably will not be able to get one.

Beginning July 1, all abortion-clinic physicians must have admitting privileges at a local hospital under a law passed by the Republican-led Legislature and signed by Republican Governor Phil Bryant in April. At the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the state’s sole remaining clinic providing elective abortions, none of the three physicians who perform the procedure has been granted those privileges.

Mississippi may become the first state without a dedicated abortion clinic if the Jackson facility fails to come into compliance. That would mark the most visible victory for the antiabortion movement, which has fought to abolish the procedure in the face of the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision guaranteeing a woman’s right to have one.


‘‘Roe v. Wade said that women have a right to an abortion in the sense that a state can’t deny or criminalize it, but there was no guarantee of access,’’ said Wendy Parmet, associate dean at Northeastern University School of Law in Boston. ‘‘States can’t create legal barriers or penalties, but they can make it practically really, really difficult.’’

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Betty Thompson, a spokeswoman for the clinic in the state capital, said the doctors have applied to seven area hospitals for admitting privileges. All three are already board certified in obstetrics and gynecology, as the new law also requires, she said.

‘‘We are crossing every T and dotting every I to make sure we have every opportunity to receive admitting privileges,’’ she said. ‘‘We are certainly qualified.’’