MS Last Remaining Family Planning Clinic To Remain Open

A federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday against an anti-choice Mississippi law requiring doctors at reproductive health clinics that provide abortions to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital, something the doctors of Mississippi’s only remaining family planning clinic attempted to obtain at seven different hospitals and were denied at all of them.

When the Governor signed the anti-choice bill into law in 2012, he said he hoped it would end abortion in the state. In defending the law, state attorneys even depended on the concept that women could and should travel outside of their own state for their reproductive healthcare needs. However, Judge E. Grady Jolly, a Ronald Reagan appointee, countered this reasoning by citing the principles of federalism and state sovereignty, writing “a state cannot lean on its sovereign neighbors to provide protection of its citizens’ federal constitutional rights.”

The court made the ruling on a state-by-state basis, stating that the narrow ruling deemed the law unconstitutional only in Mississippi because it would close the state’s last family planning clinic. Judge Jolly specifically wrote that Mississippi may not shift its constitutional obligations to respect its citizens’ constitutional right to reproductive healthcare to another state.

Missouri, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and North Dakota currently have laws requiring admitting privileges that have shut down or are threatening to shut down clinics, and four of those states have had the law blocked by courts. Unfortunately, the same appeals court that ruled in favor of women’s reproductive rights on Tuesday upheld an identical law that closed over half of family planning clinics in Texas leaving a stretch of land without a reproductive healthcare provider that is more miles than the distance Mississippians would have to travel to go out of state.

Though the ruling is a victory for Mississippi women, it does not address the unconstitutional undue burden that all admitting privileges laws put on women seeking abortions. RMC addressed the truth about hospital admitting privileges, their anti-choice purpose and harmful consequences, in a recent blog, emphasizing that both the American Medical Association and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists oppose the measure.

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