Mississippi on Thursday became the latest US state to ban abortion after the Supreme Court ruled last month removing protections for the procedure, prompting 11-hour confrontations outside a clinic in Jackson.
Alternately excited and angry, abortion rights opponents and supporters rallied outside the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the entity at the heart of the US Supreme Court’s ruling that access to abortion is not a constitutional right.
Jackson Women’s Health, nicknamed the Pink House because of the building’s colorful walls, performed its last abortions on Wednesday and saw its last consultation patients on Thursday before closing.
Holding signs reading “Love God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind,” dozens of abortion rights opponents greeted the last patients with music and shouted prayers.
On the other side of the gathering, pro-choice advocates responded with placards referencing the poor Southern state’s high maternal mortality rate, asking, “Why are you more interested in hypothetical lives than real ones?” and others proclaiming, “Abortion is healthcare.”
Cheryl Hamlin, one of the doctors who worked at Jackson Women’s Health until Thursday, vehemently confronted anti-abortion activists outside the pink building, accusing them of not respecting women’s rights.
For the past several years, Jackson Women’s Health has been the only place offering abortion care in religiously conservative Mississippi. That status made the clinic the logical organization to pursue legal action when state legislatures passed legislation restricting abortion in 2018.
The case eventually ended up before the nation’s Supreme Court, which on June 24 overturned its own landmark 1973 Roe v Wade ruling that had enshrined the constitutional right to abortion in federal law.
Thirteen states, in anticipation of the seismic shift by the court, had already passed trigger legislation banning abortions to take effect immediately after Roe’s ouster.
About seven of them have successfully banned abortion outright so far, but litigation has delayed the end date in states like Louisiana.
The 2007 Mississippi law, which went into effect on Thursday, carries penalties of up to 10 years in prison for violators, with exceptions only if the life of the mother is at risk – but not for rape or incest.
Diane Derzis, the owner of Jackson Women’s Health, is now planning to move to Las Cruces, New Mexico, which “is a very receptive state for now. We were welcomed,” she told public radio NPR.
Other clinics are also in the process of moving to New Mexico or Illinois, but Derzis added she was concerned there would not be enough facilities to handle the influx of patients from the South crossing state lines to seek abortions .
“I’m not sure we’re ready for that,” she said.
Eventually, abortion access is expected to disappear in about half of the country’s 50 states.
#Mississippi #clinic #closes #heart #Supreme #Court #abortion #overturning