AP

Mississippi clinic ends challenge of near-ban on abortion

Jul 19, 2022, 11:14 AM | Updated: Jul 20, 2022, 9:02 am

A member of the security force sits outside the Jackson Women's Health Organization clinic in Jacks...

A member of the security force sits outside the Jackson Women's Health Organization clinic in Jackson, Miss., Thursday, June 30, 2022. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Mississippi abortion clinic that was at the center of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade ended a lawsuit Tuesday in which it had sought to block the state from enforcing a law that bans most abortions.

Jackson Women’s Health Organization dropped its litigation a day after clinic owner Diane Derzis told The Associated Press that she sold the facility and had no intention to reopen it, even if a state court allowed her to do so.

“If the clinic is not in a position to reopen in Mississippi, it no longer has a basis to pursue this case in the courts,” Rob McDuff, a Mississippi Center for Justice attorney who was among those representing the clinic, said in a statement. Derzis said the clinic’s furniture and equipment have been moved to a new abortion clinic she will open soon in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Court battles over access to abortion are playing out in multiple states following the Supreme Court’s June 24 ruling, which gave states the authority to set their own laws on abortion. On Tuesday, West Virginia’s only abortion clinic resumed scheduling patients for abortions, after a judge ruled in its favor. And new restrictions on some abortions were in effect in Indiana after a judge lifted a hold on them.

The Mississippi clinic — best known as the Pink House because of its bright paint job — stopped offering medication-induced and surgical abortions July 6, the day before Mississippi enacted a law that bans most abortions. Mississippi was one of several states with a trigger law that went into effect after the Supreme Court ruling.

The Mississippi trigger law, passed in 2007, says abortion is legal only if the pregnant woman’s life is in danger or if a pregnancy is caused by a rape reported to law enforcement. It does not have an exception for pregnancies caused by incest.

On July 5, a state court judge rejected a request by the clinic’s attorneys to block the trigger law from taking effect. The clinic appealed the ruling to the state Supreme Court, citing a 1998 ruling that said the state constitution invokes a right to privacy that “includes an implied right to choose whether or not to have an abortion.”

Because the clinic is dropping its lawsuit, the Mississippi Supreme Court will not issue a new ruling.

In West Virginia, Women’s Health Center began scheduling patients for abortions for as early as next week after a judge on Monday blocked enforcement of the state’s 150-year-old abortion ban. West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said Tuesday that his office had filed a motion to the state Supreme Court asking for a stay to keep the ban in place while his office proceeds with an appeal.

“We believe it’s critical to file for an immediate stay in light of this flawed decision and seek this emergency measure to prevent immediate loss of precious life,” he said in a statement, adding that when “life is in jeopardy, no effort can be spared to protect it.”

West Virginia’s law, dating back to the 1800s, makes performing or obtaining an abortion a felony punishable by up to a decade in prison. It provides an exception for cases in which a pregnant person’s life is at risk. Women’s Health Center argued in court that the law was void because it had not been enforced in more than 50 years, and has been superseded by modern laws, including a 2015 law that allows the procedure until the 20th week of pregnancy.

Katie Quiñonez, Women’s Health Center’s executive director, called the judge’s decision to block the law “a sigh of relief.” The clinic has been posting on social media and is sending out information in an emailed newsletter to let people know they can once again schedule abortions.

But Quiñonez said operations won’t simply go back to the way they were before the clinic had to shut down. She said the staff has been telling patients: “It’s a moving target, things could change.”

Anti-abortion activists from Mississippi, Texas and elsewhere rallied a crowd in Las Cruces on Tuesday evening and took donations for a new clinic that will provide fertility and pregnancy support services next door to the planned abortion clinic.

In Indiana, a law that bans abortions based on gender, race or disability was in effect Tuesday, a day after a federal judge lifted an order that blocked its enforcement. The law includes a ban on abortions sought because a fetus has a genetic abnormality such as Down syndrome. It was adopted by Indiana’s Republican-dominated Legislature in 2016 and signed by then-Gov. Mike Pence. The law allows doctors who perform abortions in such cases to be sued for wrongful death.

Another federal judge has lifted similar blocks on abortion restrictions in recent weeks. The Indiana Legislature is expected to take action on additional abortion restrictions during a special session that starts Monday.

Meanwhile, an Indianapolis doctor who performed an abortion on a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio took the first step Tuesday toward suing Indiana’s attorney general for defamation. Dr. Caitlin Bernard, an Indianapolis obstetrician-gynecologist who gave the girl a medication-induced abortion on June 30, filed a tort claim notice over what she says were false statements made about her and her work. The notice starts a 90-day period for the state to settle.

After the girl’s abortion was in the news, Attorney General Todd Rokita told Fox News that he would investigate if Bernard violated any laws, though he made no specific allegations of wrongdoing.

A 27-year-old man was charged last week in Columbus, Ohio, with raping the girl.

___

Willingham reported from Charleston, West Virginia. Associated Press writers Tom Davies and Arleigh Rodgers in Indianapolis contributed to this report.

___

This story has been corrected to show that West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s office has filed a motion to the state Supreme Court asking for a stay to keep the state’s abortion ban in place while his office proceeds with an appeal.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Arizona doctors California abortions...

Associated Press

Arizona doctors can come to California to perform abortions under new law signed by Gov. Newsom

Arizona doctors can temporarily come to California to perform abortions for their patients under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

7 hours ago

Father convicted of first-degree murder in northern Arizona...

Associated Press

Arizona man convicted of first-degree murder in starvation death of 6-year-old son

A northern Arizona father was convicted of first-degree murder Thursday in the 2020 starvation death of his 6-year-old son.

9 hours ago

Former President Donald Trump sits in a courtroom next to his lawyer Todd Blanche before the start ...

Associated Press

Trump hush money trial enters new phase after defense rests without testimony from former president

Donald Trump's hush money trial is now closer to the moment when the jury will begin deciding the former president's fate.

2 days ago

UoA student convicted of first-degree murder after killing professor...

Associated Press

Former Arizona grad student convicted of first-degree murder in 2022 shooting of professor

A former University of Arizona grad student was convicted of first-degree murder after fatally shooting a professor on campus two years ago.

2 days ago

Rudy Giuliani bankruptcy filing defamation lawsuit...

Associated Press

Ex-NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Arizona’s Kelli Ward plead not guilty in fake elector case

Giuliani appeared remotely for the arraignment that was held in a Phoenix courtroom. His trial will take place in October.

3 days ago

President Joe Biden gestures after speaking to graduating students at the Morehouse College commenc...

Associated Press

Biden tells Morehouse graduates that scenes in Gaza from the Israel-Hamas war break his heart, too

Joe Biden on Sunday offered his most direct recognition of U.S. students' anguish over the Israel-Hamas war.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Beat the heat, ensure your AC unit is summer-ready

With temperatures starting to rise across the Valley, now is a great time to be sure your AC unit is ready to withstand the sweltering summer heat.

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

Mississippi clinic ends challenge of near-ban on abortion