Lone Mississippi abortion clinic fights limiting law

JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi’s only abortion clinic sued Wednesday to stop a law that it says will effectively ban abortion in the state and endanger women’s health by limiting access to the procedure.

Jackson Women’s Health Organization said in the federal lawsuit that the measure would close the clinic, is unconstitutional, and would ban abortion in Mississippi ‘‘by imposing medically unjustified requirements on physicians who perform abortions.’’

Republican Governor Phil Bryant has said his goal is to eliminate abortions in the state, and on Wednesday he said, ‘‘Mississippi stands ready to vigorously defend House Bill 1390,’’ the new law.


When he signed the bill, Bryant responded to what effect the law could have on the state’s only abortion clinic by saying, ‘‘If it closes that clinic, then so be it.’’

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The law takes effect Sunday, but the clinic is asking a federal judge in Jackson to issue a temporary restraining order.

The clinic said the unjustified requirement in the law is that it requires anyone who performs an abortion at a clinic to be an OB-GYN with privileges to admit patients to a local hospital.

The lawsuit says it is impossible for the clinic’s physicians to get local hospital admitting privileges by Sunday.

The privileges can be difficult to obtain, either because doctors live out of state or because religious-affiliated hospitals don’t grant them to doctors who do abortions.


The clinic says in the lawsuit that complications are rare, and if a patient needs to be hospitalized, the clinic would transfer her by ambulance.

Clinic spokeswoman Betty Thompson said last week that the three physicians who work at the clinic are OB-GYNs and have applied for privileges but haven’t received them.