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Pink House Asks Mississippi Supreme Court to Let Abortions Resume

a photo shows the silhouette of a man sitting in a window with a drink and straw in front of him, gazing across the street at pro-choice protestors sitting on the grass in front of a pink building. Signs say, "My Body My Choice" and "Keep Your Theology Off My Body." The clinic wants the Mississippi Supreme Court to let it reopen
The Jackson Women’s Health Organization, also known as the Pink House, stopped providing abortions after seeing its last patients on Wednesday, July 6, 2022. In a petition filed the next day, the clinic asked the Mississippi Supreme Court to block forcement of the state’s near-total abortion ban and allow it to resume providing abortions. Seen here, a man watches supporters of the Pink House protest outside the clinic from inside Rooster’s restaurant in the Fondren neighborhood of Jackson, Miss., on July 6, 2022. Photo by Ashton Pittman

Mississippi’s only abortion clinic, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, filed a petition today asking the Mississippi Supreme Court to allow it to resume providing abortions. The clinic closed today as the state’s Roe v. Wade trigger law, which bans nearly all abortions, took effect.

“Earlier this week, a chancery court judge denied our request to block the state’s trigger ban, and it took effect today, outlawing all abortions in Mississippi except in rare circumstances,” said Rob McDuff, a Mississippi Center For Justice attorney who is representing the clinic. “While the clinic has been forced to stop scheduling patients and providing abortions, we are asking the Mississippi Supreme Court to block that ban and the related six-week ban and let the clinic reopen as soon as possible. 

“We are doing all we can to allow the clinic to keep serving patients. We hope the Mississippi Supreme Court will abide by its prior ruling that the Mississippi Constitution protects the rights of women to make their own decisions in matters of childbirth. But unfortunately, we live in a time when settled rules of law are being cast aside. We hope that doesn’t happen here.”

Lawmakers set the trigger law to become effective only if the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed that 1973 precedent on June 24 in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, and Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch took steps on June 27 to make the trigger law enforceable 10 days afterward.

The clinic, also known as the Pink House, provided the last legal abortions in Mississippi yesterday afternoon, opening today for a final time only to see several patients for followup appointments. The Jackson Women’s Health Organization is rerouting other patients to a clinic in Columbus, Ga., for followup appointments.

The attorneys representing the Pink House are citing a 1998 Mississippi Supreme Court case, Pro-Choice v. Fordice, which found that residents have a “right to have an abortion” under the Mississippi Constitution as part of the “right to privacy” and “autonomous bodily integrity.” 

In her 8-page opinion rejecting the clinic’s request to block the trigger law on Tuesday, though, Special Chancellor Debbra K. Halford said the Mississippi Supreme Court will likely reverse the Fordice ruling on appeal now that the U.S. Supreme Court has declared that “there is no U.S. Constitutionally protected right to an abortion.”

In a statement today, MCJ President Vangela M. Wade called on the Mississippi Supreme Court “to uphold its own ruling.”

“It would be a mistake to reverse decades of precedent and allow government and politics to override a woman’s right to make health decisions directly impacting her life,” she said.

The Mississippi Center For Justice filed the lawsuit on the clinic’s behalf along with the Center for Reproductive Rights and the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.

With the state’s only abortion clinic officially closed today, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves celebrated.

“Today we wake up in a state where the church doors are open and the abortion clinic’s doors are closed,” the Republican governor tweeted. “All the Glory to God the Father! Amen!”

See the MFP’s full coverage and archive on abortion rights in Mississippi here and the Jackson Free Press archive here.

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