JACKSON, Miss. — A federal judge in Mississippi has placed a permanent injunction against the enforcement of an admitting privileges law that would have closed the state’s last abortion facility.
On Friday, U.S. District Judge Daniel Jordan III, appointed to the bench by then-President George W. Bush, granted a request from the Center for Reproductive Rights to convert his previous partial preliminary injunction into a permanent one in light of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.
In issuing the order, Jordan pointed to the state’s acknowledgement that the law does not differ from the Texas legislation struck down by the nation’s highest court last June, as well as their concession that the ruling was binding.
“Accordingly, Plaintiffs’ motion is granted,” he wrote. “Defendants are permanently enjoined from any and all forms of enforcement of the admitting privileges requirement of H.B. 1390 against Plaintiffs.”
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. In July 2014, 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.”
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.
The state appealed the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to take the case just one day after striking down Texas’ regulations that require abortionists to have admitting privileges and keep their facilities up to the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers.
“We conclude that neither of these provisions offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes,” Justice Stephen Breyer wrote for the majority. “Each places a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a pre-viability abortion, each constitutes an undue burden on abortion access, and each violates the federal Constitution.”
As previously reported, 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.”