Doors Kept Open at Last|Abortion Clinic in Mississippi

     (CN) — Just a day after releasing its most important decision on abortion rights in years, the Supreme Court blocked a Mississippi law that threatens to shutter the state’s last abortion clinic.
     Mississippi’s law echoes a provision of the Texas regulations that the court struck down Monday — requiring that doctors who perform abortions hold admitting privileges to local hospitals.
     Jackson Women’s Health Organization had challenged the Mississippi law as unconstitutional, saying it had tried but was unable to obtain admitting privileges.
     Mississippi sought Supreme Court relief after the Fifth Circuit affirmed an injunction against its law in 2014.     
     The justices silently shot down the state Tuesday, just a day after ruling against similar restrictions in Texas.
     An injunction against Mississippi’s law remains in place while a challenge to the constitutionality of Mississippi’s law moved forward.
     The Tuesday order list also denies certiorari to Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel who hoped the court would revive his state’s version of the admitting-privileges regulation. In the Texas case, led by Whole Woman’s Health, the justices found that the regulations unduly burdened women’s access to health care, while the regulations themselves offered minimal medical benefits.
     Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, applauded today’s decision:
     “The Supreme Court did right by Mississippi women today in allowing the doors of their state’s last abortion clinic remain open while this crucial legal battle continues,” Northup said in a statement.
     “Whether in Mississippi, Texas, or any other state across the U.S., politicians cannot insert their personal beliefs into a woman’s decision whether to continue or end a pregnancy. We are confident that courts across the country will continue to affirm that politicians cannot pass laws attacking women’s access to safe, legal abortion.”
     Northup’s organization emphasized that the “Jackson Women’s Health Organization has served women and families in Mississippi for 20 years, and has been the sole reproductive health care provider offering abortion in the state for approximately 10 years.”
     “The next nearest clinics for Mississippi residents are approximately three hours away, with most neighboring states requiring mandatory waiting periods for women seeking safe and legal abortion services,” the group’s statement continues.
     Although all the doctors who provide abortions to Mississippi women at the clinic are board-certified ob-gyns, the clinic said no hospital in the area would even process its physicians’ applications.
     Several hospitals cited their policies against abortion care in doing so.
     The Whole Woman’s Health ruling Monday quoted an attorney for Texas as being unable to identify “a single instance in which the [admitting-privileges] requirement would have helped even one woman obtain better treatment.”
     Supporters of the abortion providers meanwhile briefed the court on why the lack of medical necessity also made the admitting-privileges requirement impossible to meet.
     “During the past 10 years, over 17,000 abortion procedures were performed at the El Paso clinic [and n]ot a single one of those patients had to be transferred to a hospital for emergency treatment, much less admitted to the hospital,” one brief quoted in the opinion says. “In a word, doctors would be unable to maintain admitting privileges or obtain those privileges for the future, because the fact that abortions are so safe meant that providers were unlikely to have any patients to admit.”
     Another provision of the Texas law that the high court struck down Monday mandated that abortions be performed in hospital-style surgical centers.
     In finding this requirement overly burdensome, the court said it “provides no benefit when complications arise in the context of an abortion produced through medication.”
     “That is because, in such a case, complications would almost always arise only after the patient has left the facility. The record also contains evidence indicating that abortions taking place in an abortion facility are safe — indeed, safer than numerous procedures that take place outside hospitals and to which Texas does not apply its surgical-center requirements,” Justice Stephen Breyer wrote for the majority.
     The ruling noted that just five peopled died from abortions in Texas between 2001 and 2012.”Nationwide, childbirth is 14 times more likely than abortion to result in death, but Texas law allows a midwife to oversee childbirth in the patient’s own home,” the decision continues. “Colonoscopy, a procedure that typically takes place outside a hospital (or surgical center) setting, has a mortality rate 10 times higher than an abortion.”
     Liposuction is another outpatient procedure, but its mortality rate “is 28 times higher than the mortality rate for abortion,” Breyer added.

%d bloggers like this: