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Federal Court Blocks Enforcement of Unconstitutional Mississippi Law

On the heels of a temporary restraining order issued July 1 and extended on Wednesday, this evening a federal judge partially granted a preliminarily injunction which will block enforcement of Mississippi’s state law that would have shut down the state’s last remaining reproductive health clinic offering abortion services while the state Department of Health’s administrative process is ongoing.

The Center for Reproductive Rights, representing the Jackson Women’s Health Organization and Dr. Willie Parker, filed for immediate court action on June 27 claiming the new law—which aimed to close the last clinic in the state by requiring all physicians performing abortions in the state be board certified or eligible obstetrician-gynecologists with admitting privileges at an area hospital—clearly threatens the health of women and deprives them of their constitutionally-protected right to decide when and whether to have children.

In partially granting the preliminary injunction, U.S. District Judge Daniel P. Jordan III stated in today’s order:

“The Act will be allowed to take effect, but Plaintiffs will not be subject to the risk of criminal or civil penalties at this time or in the future for operating without the relevant privileges during the administrative process. This will maintain the status quo in this litigation because the Defendants will be precluded from taking action that they do not now contemplate while Plaintiffs will be permitted to operate lawfully while continuing their efforts to obtain privileges as they said they would.”

The Center for Reproductive Rights will continue to work with the Jackson Women's Health Organization about next steps and how the clinic can continue providing essential and safe reproductive health care to the women of Mississippi.

Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO at the Center for Reproductive Rights:

“Today’s decision has ensured, for the time being, that anti-choice politicians in Mississippi cannot relegate the women of their state to a second class of citizens that can be denied their constitutional rights with the stroke of a legislator’s pen.

“Every woman in the United States must be guaranteed the same rights and protections under the laws of the land, no matter where she happens to live.

“It is truly shameful that after years of vicious legislative attacks on reproductive health care providers in Mississippi, the health and well-being of women in the state hinges on the survival of one remaining clinic.

“The federal judge has provided crucial temporary protection for the clinic and its physicians. We will remain vigilant in our fight to ensure the clinic isn't subject to penalties that would force its doors to close and deprive Mississippi women of their constitutionally-protected rights."

The Center filed the suit, Jackson Women’s Health Organization & Willie Parker, M.D., M.P.H., M.Sc. v. Mary Currier, M.D., M.P.H. & Robert Shuler Smith, with Michelle Movahed as lead counsel, along with local counsel Robert B. McDuff in Jackson, Mississippi.