The lone abortion clinic in Mississippi may have to close its doors in early January if a federal judge allows a state law to go into effect that would regulate the clinic out of existence.
The Center for Reproductive Rights filed a motion in a federal court on Wednesday asking a judge to block the implementation of a law passed by Republican state lawmakers earlier this year that requires all abortion physicians in Mississippi to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. The judge partially blocked the law in July, giving the Jackson Women's Health Organization six months -- until Jan. 6, 2013 -- to comply with the law without legal retaliation from the state. But since then, both primary physicians at the clinic have applied for and been denied admitting privileges by all seven local hospitals.
According to letters quoted by the Center, the hospitals rejected the physicians because their medical practice "is inconsistent with this Hospital’s policies and practices as concerns abortion and, in particular, elective abortions" and that admitting them "would lead to both an internal and external disruption of the Hospital’s function and business within this community."
The Center will argue before the court that if the law is allowed to go into effect, the clinic will be forced to close, and women in Mississippi -- which has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation -- will have no longer have any access to abortion in their state.
“This unconstitutional law has essentially handed over the fate of Mississippi women’s reproductive health care to hospital administrators,” said Michelle Movahed, staff attorney at the Center.
Betty Thompson, a spokesperson for the Jackson Women's Health Organization, told The Huffington Post that the clinic's staffers are "on pins and needles" waiting for the court's decision. She said the clinic served about 2,000 patients in 2011 and that the majority of its clients are low-income and teenage women. The next nearest clinic for Mississippi residents is approximately three hours away and over the state line, and most neighboring states require women to make a second visit to the abortion clinic after a 24-hour waiting period in order to receive services.
“Mississippi women have the same constitutional rights as any other women in the United States," said Nancy Northup, president and CEO at the Center for Reproductive Rights. "They deserve far better than to be forced to travel hundreds of miles to another state to get a safe, legal medical procedure."
99 Problems (JAY-Z)
Eric Fehrnstrom, senior campaign adviser for Mitt Romney, <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2012/06/03/494238/fehrnstrom-shiny-objects-women/" target="_hplink">said on Sunday</a> that issues pertaining to women's reproductive rights, such as abortion and birth control, were "shiny objects" meant to distract voters from the real issues. "Mitt Romney is pro-life," he told ABC's George Stephanopoulos. "He'll govern as a pro-life president, but you're going to see the Democrats use all sorts of shiny objects to distract people's attention from the Obama performance on the economy. This is not a social issue election."
The Senate will vote Thursday on the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would expand and strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and make it illegal for employers to punish women for bringing up pay disparity issues. Dana Perino, a Fox News contributor and former press secretary for President George W. Bush, <a href="http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/04/30/perino-equal-pay-issue-is-a-distraction-for-just-48-hours/" target="_hplink">called the equal pay issue</a> "a distraction" from the country's real financial problems last week. "Well, it's just yet another distraction of dealing with the major financial issues that the country should be dealing with," Perino said. "This is not a job creator."
Just My Imagination (The Temptations)
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), whose home state's legislature recently defunded Planned Parenthood and voted to pass a bill that would allow employers to deny women birth control coverage, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/26/john-mccain-war-on-women_n_1455591.html" target="_hplink">delivered a floor speech</a> in which he insisted that the war on women is something imaginary for Democrats to "sputter about." "My friends, this supposed 'War on Women' or the use of similarly outlandish rhetoric by partisan operatives has two purposes, and both are purely political in their purpose and effect: The first is to distract citizens from real issues that really matter and the second is to give talking heads something to sputter about when they appear on cable television," he said.
Butterfly Fly Away (Miley & Billy Ray Cyrus)
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus tried to trivialize concerns about the legislative "war on women" by comparing it to a "war on caterpillars." "If the Democrats said we had a war on caterpillars and every mainstream media outlet talked about the fact that Republicans have a war on caterpillars, then we'd have problems with caterpillars," Priebus <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-04-05/priebus-says-gender-battle-as-fictonal-as-caterpillar-war.html" target="_hplink">said in an April interview</a> on Bloomberg Television. "It's a fiction."
Distraction (Angels And Airwaves)
Missouri U.S. Senate candidate Sarah Steelman (R) took heat from her opponents in May when she contended that Democratic lawmakers' focus on the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act was "a distraction" from the issues they should be dealing with instead. "I think it's unfortunate that the Democrats have made a political football out of this thing, which I think is what they keep doing to distract from real problems that are facing our nation," she said in an interview with St. Louis Public Radio.
We Don't Care (Kanye West)
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) defended the Republican Party in April for going after insurance coverage for contraception by arguing that women don't actually care about contraception. "Women don't care about contraception," she said on ABC's The View. "They care about jobs and the economy and raising their families and all those other things."