U.S. District Judge Daniel P. Jordan III temporarily blocked the law July 1 and extended that order Wednesday, though he did not immediately say how long it would last. The state law would require anyone performing clinic abortions to be an OB-GYN with privileges to admit patients to a local hospital. The doctors at the clinic in Jackson do not have those privileges, and the clinic says the privileges aren’t medically necessary.
The clinic, Jackson Women’s Health Organization has so far been unable to obtain admitting privileges for its two out-of-state OB-GYNs because local hospitals have not yet responded to their requests. Obtaining admitting privileges is no easy task. Many hospitals refuse to grant privileges to out-of-state practitioners and religiously affiliated institutions are essentially free to refuse them to doctors who perform abortions.
Supporters of the law say it’s designed to protect patients. Republican Gov. Phil Bryant has said he hopes it will help make Mississippi “abortion-free.”
While this is good news, it is not time to celebrate yet. The order essentially buys the judge enough time to fully consider the rules passed by the Department of Health and the legal requirement that they not pose an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to chose abortion. This is not a ruling on the merits yet. And even when that ruling comes, it is all-but guaranteed to be appealed because this law was designed to spark a fight for Supreme Court review.
This battle is just starting.
Photo from jkbeitz via flickr.