US federal judge Daniel P Jordan III gave both the state of Mississippi and the clinic – Jackson Women’s Health Organisation – a partial victory with his ruling yesterday.
The law requires anyone undertaking abortions at the clinic to be an obstetric gynaecologist with privileges to admit patients to a local hospital. The clinic’s two out-of-state specialists don’t have those privileges and have had difficulty getting them from local hospitals.
“The resolution of that issue will impact the ultimate issues in this case,” Jordan ruled.
The clinic has said it could be forced to close due to the admitting privileges requirement, making it nearly impossible to get an abortion in the state.
The US Supreme Court has ruled that states can not place undue burdens on, or substantial obstacles to, women seeking abortions.
But the clinic said its specialists had applied for admitting privileges at most Jackson-area hospitals but had not received responses.
When its employees called a Catholic hospital to ask about applying for privileges, clinic owner Diane Derzis said: “We were told not to bother.”
The clinic sued the state last month seeking to block the law, which Jordan did temporarily from when it was to come into force on 1 July. But he has now ruled: “The act will be allowed to take effect, but plaintiffs will not be subject to the risk of criminal or civil penalties at this time or in the future for operating without the relevant privileges.”
Supporters of the law passed by the Republican-controlled legislature this year said it was designed to protect patients. Republican governor Phil Bryant said he hoped it would help make the state “abortion-free” and that he was “gratified” the judge will allow the law to take effect.