Jackson Women's Health v Currier

The Center for Reproductive Rights, the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, Mississippi civil rights attorney Robert B. McDuff, and the Mississippi Center for Justice brought a challenge in Jackson, Mississippi against a regime of Mississippi laws and regulations that have created unconstitutional barriers to the right to access safe, legal abortion and that violate the Supreme Court’s standard in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.

The lawsuit challenges legal restrictions in Mississippi that place burdens on women seeking abortion services, including laws that demean, delay and misinform women, as well as a series of Targeted Regulations of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws and regulations. As Mississippi has enacted this legal regime over the last two-and-a-half decades, all but one of the state’s abortion clinics have closed. Today’s challenge comes three weeks after the Center for Reproductive Rights and Mr. McDuff filed a successful emergency lawsuit to temporarily block the latest of these laws: the state’s unconstitutional ban on abortion after 15 weeks.

The restrictions challenged in the lawsuit include:

  • TRAP Licensing Scheme: a restrictive clinic licensing system that singles out abortion clinics for a series of unnecessary and unwarranted regulations that far exceed regulations applied to other clinics providing similar and even higher-risk medical care.
  • 24-hour mandatory delay: a requirement that women delay their abortion 24 hours after receiving state-mandated information; Mississippi does not subject any other medical care to this requirement.
  • Two-trip requirement a requirement that a woman make two separate trips to and from the clinic before she can obtain an abortion; no other medical care is subject to this requirement in Mississippi.
  • Physician only law: a requirement that only physicians provide abortion care, when evidence and experience demonstrate that other medical practitioners can safely provide this care, as they do in several other states. 
  • Telemedicine ban: a ban that applies only to physicians providing abortions that prohibits physicians from the use of telemedicine to provide consultations and treatment recommendations, including dispensing prescription medications, to patients; no other type of telemedicine consultations or treatments are subject to this prohibition in Mississippi.
  • 15 Week Ban: a prohibition on abortions after 15 weeks that threatens physicians with civil penalties for providing that care.   

These requirements and restrictions do not make abortion care safer or improve women’s health; instead, they are part of a “step-by-step” legislative strategy by anti-abortion groups and politicians in state legislatures to eliminate access to legal abortion. Anti-abortion legislators have implemented this strategy across the country, and these laws and regulations have hit low-income women, rural communities, and communities of color the hardest. 

The Center for Reproductive Rights is using the power of the law and the Supreme Court decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt to challenge these unconstitutional laws in Mississippi. The landmark ruling reaffirmed a woman’s fundamental right to access abortion, and declared that laws whose benefits do not outweigh the burdens they impose on women’s access to abortion are unconstitutional.

Plaintiff(s): Jackson Women’s Health Organization and Sacheen Carr-Ellis, M.D., M.P.H

Attorney(s):  Julie Rikelman, Hillary Schneller, Leah Wiederhorn, and Christine Parker

Co-Counsel/Cooperating Attorneys: Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, Robert B. McDuff, and the Mississippi Center for Justice 


The Center