Mississippi Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Affirm Law That May Close State’s Last Abortion Facility

SOR JacksonJACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood has filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking that it hear its case surrounding an admitting privileges law that could close the state’s last abortion facility.

As previously reported, in 2012, Mississippi legislators enacted a law requiring abortionists to have board certification and obtain hospital admitting privileges. The latter requirement, which allows abortionists to send injured women to local hospitals for further treatment, was said to serve as a safeguard to protect mothers that need critical medical care.

After the bill was signed into law, Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the last abortion facility in the state, filed a lawsuit in an attempt to block the requirements. During a hearing, the facility explained in court that it had been unsuccessful in obtaining admitting privileges, and was granted six months of additional time to comply. However, none of the area hospitals agreed to partner with the facility despite the extension.

“They were clear that they didn’t deal with abortion and they didn’t want the internal or the external pressure of dealing with it,” said administrator Diane Derzis.

After U.S. District Judge Daniel P. Jordan III issued a preliminary injunction against the law in 2013, the state appealed to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, Louisiana. Last July, the court ruled 2-1 that the requirement was unconstitutional, asserting that the 1973 ruling of Roe v. Wade established that mothers had a “right” to an abortion and that all states are “obligated” to uphold that “right.”

“Given that the Supreme Court long ago determined that the Constitution protects a woman’s right to choose an abortion, the ultimate issue in this appeal is whether the State of Mississippi can impose a regulation that effectively will close its only abortion clinic,” Judge E. Grady Jolly, nominated by Ronald Reagan, wrote on behalf of the majority.

She opined that to outlaw abortion within a state would be to “disregard a state’s obligation under the principle of federalism—applicable to all fifty states—to accept the burden of the non-delegable duty of protecting the established federal constitutional rights of its own citizens.”

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But Judge Emilio M. Garza wrote a dissent in which he disagreed that states are required to possess operating abortion facilities.

“[N]o state is obligated to provide or guarantee the provision of abortion services within its borders,” he said.

On Wednesday, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood appealed the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court, stating that the matter needs to be clarified by the court as the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals had upheld an identical law in Texas.

“This implies that either Texas has greater authority to protect maternal health or that Texas women are somehow entitled to greater protection than Mississippi women,” the appeal stated.

Hood explained that the law is a “medically legitimate health and safety regulation,” as legislators were “concerned by highly publicized reports of deaths and injuries involving abortion facilities across the country that raised serious doubts as to the safety of women undergoing abortion procedures.”

The owner of Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Diane Derzis, has claimed that she believes God wants her to run the abortion facility. Christian Cal Zastrow, who has shared the gospel with abortion-minded mothers outside of the facility for years, and Derzis were featured on ABC’s Nightline in 2013, as Derzis contended to reporters that God was on her side in the abortion business.

“I know as fervently as they do that what I’m doing is moral and right,” she stated. “But if I’m wrong, that’s between the Lord and I.”

Footage also showed Zastrow calling out to Derzis, “I want you to quit killing babies. I want you to turn to the love of Jesus.”

“I have the love of Jesus,” she replied. “He approves of what I do.”

“No, you don’t,” Zastrow responded. “You have the murder of preborn children.”

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