According to a recent report by CNN, Mississippi has successfully passed a law that could make it more difficult for women to receive abortions in the state. Governor Phil Bryant signed a bill into law that requires that doctors who perform abortions be licensed and board-certified obstetrician-gynecologists and that those doctors have admitting privileges at a local hospital.
While these new requirements may seem at first glance to be minimal, it could potentially put the state’s only abortion facility out of business. The facility is the Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The owner of the facility, Diane Derzis, says that all of her physicians are board-certified obstetrician-gynecologists, but only one of the abortion providers in her office has admitting privileges. She said that she did not want to let her patients down and that she would do everything in her power to make sure that the clinic remained open.
Felicia Brown-Williams, policy director at Planned Parenthood in Hattiesburg, Mississippi does not believe that there is any medically necessary reason why an abortion provider has to have admitting privileges or be a board-certified OB/GYN. She believes that the bill is an attempt to ban abortions without directly challenging the 1973 United States Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade. She said that the bill “puts in place requirements that intentionally try to make it impossible for physicians to provide abortion services.” If the only provider in the state is required to close because it cannot find doctors who meet the bill new qualifications, then the state of Mississippi would have, even if only temporarily, banned abortion in the state.
It is possible to challenge the new bill on constitutional grounds, according to Jordan Goldberg, counsel for The Center for Reproductive Rights. If the Mississippi law puts more restrictions on abortion providers than on other physicians similarly situated, it could raise a 14th Amendment Equal Protection claim.