Abortion not available in most cases in Mississippi and Louisiana when bans go into effect

Mississippi’s last abortion clinic, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, was forced to close its doors this week after the state ban went into effect Thursday. And in Louisiana, an Orleans Parish Civil District Court judge lifted a temporary restraining order on Friday, allowing the state to enforce its near-total ban on proceedings there.
Known as the “Pink House” for operating in a pink stucco building, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization had provided abortion services for decades and was the provider that sued a ban on abortion. the 15-week abortion in Mississippi, which led to the US Supreme Court ruling. decision last month.

Mississippi’s trigger ban, enacted in 2007, prohibits abortions in the state with only exceptions for rape or to preserve the life of the pregnant person. It went into effect Thursday after a Mississippi judge earlier in the week denied a motion by the clinic to block the law.

Jackson Women’s Health Organization owner Diane Derzis told CNN the clinic saw 69 patients on Wednesday and performed procedures throughout the day until it had to close, with a few appointments follow-up Thursday.

“It was always a very busy clinic. So we realize how many women are going to be left behind and have to travel out of state, or carry on a pregnancy, or do something themselves. It’s the latter which worries you more than anything else. Because there is definitely desperation,” Derzis told CNN.

The Jackson Women’s Health Organization has referred more than 100 patients to its Columbus clinic in the past two days, according to Derzis.

She said they started packing Friday to move to a new clinic in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where she expects them to be open next week.

“People should see what has been done here with this decision and how it is going to affect women, children and their families in this country. It is an outrage in 2022 that women are forced to sneak out of the State to another state to receive medical care. It’s just amazing,” Derzis told CNN.

The clinic appealed to the state Supreme Court.

“Mississippians still have a separate and independent right to privacy under the Mississippi Constitution, which the Mississippi Supreme Court has held encompasses the right to abortion,” the Jackson Women’s Health Organization argued in the lawsuit filed last month.

“This case is by no means over”

In a court hearing in Louisiana on Friday, Judge Ethel S. Julien lifted the temporary freeze on a restrictive abortion ban in the state, paving the way for the law to take effect immediately. triggering the state and preventing state abortion clinics from operating.

Last month, a Louisiana state court blocked enforcement of the state’s trigger law by issuing a temporary restraining order. Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry appealed, asking the state Supreme Court to dissolve the lower court’s order. The court dismissed this appeal and sent it back to the lower courts for a hearing.

Julien agreed with the state on Friday that the challenge to the state’s abortion laws should be taken to a state court in Baton Rouge, instead of New Orleans, said Walt Pierce, the official. of the court’s public information to CNN.

The abortion providers then asked the judge to uphold the temporary restraining order while the case was transferred to the 19th Judicial District Court. After retreating to her apartments to consider the request, Julien ruled she had no authority to extend the temporary restraining order, citing her earlier ruling that New Orleans was not the appropriate venue for the case, Pierce told CNN.

Challenges to the law by abortion providers will now be transferred to the 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge.

“Today the judge got it right,” Landry said during a press conference after the hearing, adding, “We certainly intend to continue to uphold the laws of the state and uphold the laws.”

The Center for Reproductive Rights, one of the litigants in the case, said it plans to “ask the new Baton Rouge court to block the bans again as soon as possible.”

“Today’s decision was on a technicality and did not touch on the substance of this matter. I am personally devastated for the patients in Louisiana who are now panicking trying to figure out how to get care. But to be clear , this case is by no means over,” Jenny Ma, the group’s lead attorney, said in a statement on Friday.

“Since the fall of Roe last month, abortion services have ceased in nine more states, and that number continues to grow. With each state that bans abortion, the distance southern patients have to travel increases by exponentially. So losing access to Louisiana, even for a day, contributes to a growing health crisis not just for Louisiana residents, but across the South.”

Texas’ largest independent abortion provider is closing clinics

Jackson Women’s Health Organization isn’t the only southern abortion provider to move its operation.

While abortion is effectively prohibited in Texas with very limited exceptions following the High Court ruling, abortion is legal in New Mexico.

Whole Woman’s Health, the largest independent abortion provider in Texas, said Wednesday it was closing four clinics in Texas and seeking a clinic site in a New Mexico border town to provide first- and second-trimester abortions.

Abortions up to about six weeks pregnant had been allowed to resume in Texas after a state court issued a temporary restraining order against the nearly century-old abortion ban. But late last Friday, the Texas Supreme Court cleared the way for civil enforcement of Texas’ pre-Roe abortion ban, prompting clinics to once again stop providing abortion services.

The state trigger law also goes into effect in the coming weeks.

Other clinics in the state, such as Planned Parenthood’s three Texas affiliates, Houston Women’s Clinic and Houston Women’s Reproductive Services, said they were unable to provide abortion care following Roe’s cancellation.

CNN’s Tierney Sneed and Natasha Chen contributed to this report.

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