Mississippi’s Last Abortion Clinic Will Close as the Trigger Ban Takes Effect!

A judge on Tuesday denied an injunction to stop a near-total abortion ban from taking effect Thursday.

Mississippi’s only abortion clinic, Jackson Women’s Health Organization, will lock its doors after the close of business on Wednesday following a trial judge’s refusal to block the state’s trigger law from taking effect, instituting a near-total abortion ban.

“Without any further action, today will be the last day that Jackson Women’s Health can provide abortion care,” said Hillary Schneller, a senior staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights who represents the clinic. “That means the last abortion provider in Mississippi will no longer be able to provide essential care to both folks in Mississippi and folks who’ve been traveling across multiple state lines to access this essential care before it’s too late.”

Chancery Judge Debbra K. Halford denied the clinic’s request for an injunction on Tuesday, citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last month to overturn Roe v. Wade in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Halford, who is a trial judge in southwest Mississippi, was chosen to decide the case after judges in Hinds County, where the clinic is, said they couldn’t do it.

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“The bans we challenged, both the trigger ban and the six-week ban, should unquestionably have been blocked based on existing protections under the Mississippi Constitution,” Schneller said. “People do not lose their right to bodily autonomy when they become pregnant.”

Mississippi's Last Abortion

Robert McDuff, another lawyer for the clinic, said that the legal team is thinking about what to do next, which could include an appeal in the next few days. However, the clinic will not be able to keep providing services while the case is in court.

“As for now, the prospects for reopening the clinic are not very good,” McDuff said.

In the weeks since the Supreme Court overturned the 49-year-old Roe v. Wade precedent, other states have been rushing to clarify their abortion laws. As abortion bans go into effect in many states, mostly in the South and Midwest, local officials and activists are taking steps to protect access to abortion. Here are the most recent things that have happened across the country:
  • Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) on Tuesday affirmed her commitment to protecting abortion rights and signed an executive order aimed at protecting patients seeking abortions and healthcare providers who offer abortion services. The order prohibits Maine officials, including police, from cooperating with out-of-state investigations or extradition requests from other states pursuing criminal charges for performing or receiving an abortion.


  • Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) also joined the growing group of state leaders refusing to cooperate with attempts to keep people from crossing state lines for abortions. On Wednesday, he signed an executive order implementing several new protections for reproductive rights in his state, including a commitment to decline extradition requests from other states. “No one who is lawfully providing, assisting, seeking, or obtaining reproductive health care in Colorado should be subject to legal liability or professional sanctions in Colorado or any other state, nor will Colorado cooperate with criminal or civil investigations for actions that are fully legal in our State,” the executive order said.


  • Planned Parenthood clinics in Nevada have seen an influx of out-of-state patients seeking abortion services in recent weeks. Kristina Tocci, medical director for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that Las Vegas had seen a 200 percent jump in the number of Texans seeking an abortion since the Lone Star State adopted strict restrictions that amount to a near-total ban. In 1990, Nevada voters formally enshrined the right to an abortion in state law. But several of the state’s neighbors have either banned or strictly limited abortions, including Idaho, Arizona, and Utah.


  • In Ohio, Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish (D) called on the county to cover the cost of transportation, lodging, and other related costs for county workers seeking abortions out of state. Ohio has banned abortion after six weeks, except when the mother’s life is in danger. Cuyahoga County encompasses Cleveland.


  • Whole Woman’s Health, which ceased operations at four abortion clinics in Texas after the state’s highest court allowed an abortion ban to take effect, said it is moving to open a clinic near the state border in New Mexico. New Mexico does not have any of the common restrictions on abortion access that its nearby neighbors have enacted.

Mississippi’s “trigger” law was passed in 2007 when Roe was still protecting abortion access at the federal level. The law makes very few exceptions, like if a rape is reported to the police or if the mother’s life needs to be saved. On Thursday, the state can start following this law for the first time.

The judge asked a pastor to pray for “the presence of the Holy Spirit in the courtroom” at the beginning of Tuesday’s court hearing. This was to decide what would happen to the state’s last abortion clinic right away.

The legal team representing Jackson Women’s Health Organization argued that a right to privacy conferred in the Mississippi Constitution protects abortion access at the state level, regardless of federal law. McDuff argued that a 1998 case called Pro-Choice Mississippi v. Fordice established that the state constitution protects the right to an abortion. The Mississippi Supreme Court “made it clear that its decision was based on the Mississippi right to privacy and the history of abortion law in the state of Mississippi,” McDuff said in an interview.

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