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Mississippi's only abortion clinic to stay open under restraining order

From Rich Phillips and George Howell, CNN
updated 6:14 AM EDT, Mon July 2, 2012
"I'm jubilant," Diane Derzis, clinic owner and president, said of the temporary restraining order.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Jackson Women's Health Organization filed for the action in response to a new state law
  • The law requires abortion providers to be OB/GYNs and have area hospital privileges
  • The order blocks enforcement of the law at least until a hearing scheduled for July 11
  • "We will speak with our attorneys regarding our game plan," legislation's sponsor says

Jackson, Mississippi (CNN) -- A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order Sunday that will allow the only abortion clinic operating in Mississippi to stay open -- for now.

The Jackson Women's Health Organization filed for the action in response to a new state law that would require a clinic's abortion providers to be certified OB/GYN practitioners, and for those physicians to all have privileges at an area hospital. The law, which took effect Sunday, puts the clinic at risk, as all its doctors do not have such privileges.

The judge's order blocks enforcement of the law at least until the next hearing on the matter, which is scheduled for July 11.

"I'm jubilant," said Diane Derzis, clinic owner and president. "It means the constitutional rights of women to make their decision, for the time being, is in place."

Abortion clinic fights to stay open

Officials at the Jackson clinic say they are working to comply with the law. All of its doctors are OB/GYNs who travel in from other states. But only one can practice at a local hospital.

They say they are trying to gain privileges at Jackson-area hospitals, but that the cumbersome process and red tape forced them to file for a reprieve.

"Disappointing" is how Gov. Phil Bryant described the decision, according to spokesman Mick Bullock.

The governor "plans to work with state leaders to ensure this legislation properly takes effect as soon as possible," he said.

State Rep. Sam Mims, who sponsored the legislation, said "we will speak with our attorneys regarding our game plan," in response to the judge's order Sunday.

Bryant signed the bill into law in April after the Republican-dominated legislature overwhelmingly passed it.

Mississippi is one of the toughest states on the abortion-rights movement. The state has laws requiring a 24-hour waiting period, as well as parental consent if the patient seeking an abortion is a minor.

Mims previously told CNN the intent behind the legislation was to ensure that women undergoing abortions are receiving care from a certified, professional physician.

"If something goes wrong, which it might -- we hope it doesn't, but it could -- that physician could follow the patient to a local hospital. That's the intent. And what happens afterwards, we'll have to see what happens," he said.

But Derzis believes that the real intent of the newly elected Republican majority was to end abortion in the state, not to improve women's health care.

"This is not about safety. This is about politics. Politics do not need to be in our uterus," she said.

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