There's only one abortion clinic in Mississippi, but state legislators sent a bill to the governor's desk on Thursday that could reduce that number to zero.
Mississippi House Bill 1390 requires that all physicians who perform abortions have admitting privileges at a local hospital and be board certified in obstetrics and gynecology. While all of the physicians at the Jackson Women’s Health Organization are currently board certified OB-GYNs, only one of them has admitting privileges at a local hospital. And since hospitals have the right to refuse admitting privileges to physicians, and two of Jackson's hospitals have Christian affiliations, it may be difficult for the other physicians at the clinic to comply with the law by the July 1st deadline.
The State Senate voted to pass the bill Wednesday, but it was held for further debate on Thursday, when lawmakers had an odd exchange over the bill on the Senate floor. Sen. Kenny Wayne Jones (D-Canton) asked Sen. Dean Kirby (R-Pearl), who chairs the Senate Public Health Committee, whether ending abortions in the state would force women to resort to dangerous, back-alley abortions.
"That's what we're trying to stop here, the coat-hanger abortions," Kirby replied, in reference to the abortions provided at the clinic in Jackson. "The purpose of this bill is to stop back-room abortions."
Gov. Phil Bryant (R), who is expected to sign the bill Thursday, expressed his support in a statement. "This legislation is an important step in strengthening abortion regulations and protecting the health and safety of women," he said. "As governor, I will continue to work to make Mississippi abortion-free."
Bryant also told WJTV that he thinks Mississippi needs the law because "it saves the lives of women."
But the Democratic women in the state legislature do not appreciate the male lawmakers' efforts.
"Now, if you're that concerned about unplanned pregnancies, go get snipped," State Rep. Adrienne Wooten (D-Jackson) told the men in the House. "Why aren't we over here with a bill about vasectomy? The number of concerns that could pop up that could cause me to consider an abortion, you don't have the right to tell me I can't seek this type of assistance."