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12.09.08 - Filing date: 06/29/04
Plaintiff(s): Jackson Women's Health Organization
Center Attorney(s): Bonnie Scott Jones
Co-Counsel/Cooperating Attorneys: S. Mark Wann at Maxey Wann, PLLC (local)
Summary: The Center for Reproductive Rights brought this case in 2004 on behalf of the only remaining abortion facility in Mississippi, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, against a "TRAP" law that would have effectively banned the performance of second-trimester abortions in the State. The term "TRAP" stands for "targeted regulation of abortion providers," and it refers to laws that target the medical practices of doctors who provide abortions, and impose on them burdensome requirements which are different and more stringent than the legal requirements imposed on other medical practices. These laws increase the costs of abortion and hinder physicians from becoming abortion providers.
Mississippi's TRAP law prohibited the performance of second-trimester abortions except in licensed hospitals or ambulatory surgical facilities (ASFs). The catch to this requirement is that Missouri hospitals perform virtually no abortions, no ASF in the state provides abortions, and in Mississippi, abortion clinics are ineligible to become licensed as ASFs. Thus, the law prevented the Jackson Women's Health Organization from performing second-trimester abortions and left women with nowhere else in the State to seek those services. In 2005, the District Court ruled in our favor, permanently barring the State from enforcing the law.
Undeterred, in 2005, the Mississippi legislature passed a new version of the law, which required that second-trimester abortion providers comply with all ASF regulations, even though those providers remained ineligible to become licensed as ASFs. The ASF regulations are extensive, burdensome and costly. Nonetheless, after 18 months of compliance efforts and negotiations, the Mississippi Department of Health granted the Jackson Women's Health Organization a license to resume providing second-trimester abortions.