Clinic consultation

Mississippi clinic at heart of U.S. Supreme Court abortion reversal closes

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Jackson (United States) (AFP) – Mississippi on Thursday became the latest U.S. state to ban abortion after last month’s Supreme Court ruling revoking procedural protections, leading to 11-hour clashes outside a clinic in Jackson.

Alternately delighted or furious, opponents and supporters of abortion rights gathered outside the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the institution at the heart of the United States Supreme Court’s decision declaring that access to abortion is not a constitutional right.

Nicknamed the Pink House because of the building’s colorful walls, Jackson Women’s Health performed its last abortions on Wednesday and saw its last patients in consultation Thursday before it closed.

Holding signs reading “Love God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind”, dozens of abortion rights opponents greeted the last trickle of patients with music and shouted prayers.

A clinic volunteer attempts to drown protesters outside the Jackson Women’s Health Organization in Jackson, Mississippi on July 7, 2022 Sandy Huffaker AFP

On the other side of the rally, abortion rights advocates responded with signs referencing the impoverished southern state’s high maternal mortality rate to ask, “Why do you care more about hypothetical lives than real lives? and others proclaiming “Abortion is health care”.

Cheryl Hamlin, one of the doctors working until Thursday at Jackson Women’s Health, vehemently took on anti-abortion protesters outside the pink building, accusing them of failing to respect women’s rights.

In recent years, Jackson Women’s Health was the only place to offer abortion care in religiously conservative Mississippi. That status made the clinic the logical organization to take legal action when state lawmakers passed a law restricting abortion in 2018.

The case eventually went to the nation’s High Court, which on June 24 overturned its own landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that enshrined the constitutional right to abortion in federal law.

Thirteen states, anticipating the court’s seismic shift, had already passed trigger laws to ban abortion, which were to take effect immediately after Roe’s overthrow.

Dr. Cheryl Hamlin (center) slams an abortion opponent outside the Jackson Women's Health Organization on July 7, 2022
Dr. Cheryl Hamlin (center) slams an abortion opponent outside the Jackson Women’s Health Organization on July 7, 2022 Sandy Huffaker AFP

About seven of them have so far succeeded in completely banning abortion, but legal battles have delayed the end date in states like Louisiana.

Mississippi’s 2007 law, which went into effect Thursday, provides for penalties of up to 10 years in prison for violations and only provides exceptions where the mother’s life is in danger, but not in case of rape or incest.

Diane Derzis, the owner of Jackson Women’s Health, now plans to move to Las Cruces, New Mexico, which “at the moment is a very receptive state. We have been well received,” she told radio. public NPR.

Other clinics are also moving to New Mexico or Illinois, but Derzis added that she’s worried there won’t be enough facilities to handle the influx of patients from the South crossing. state lines to get an abortion.

“I’m not sure we’re ready for that,” she said.

Ultimately, abortion access is expected to disappear in about half of the country’s 50 states.