Jun 23, 2012 No Comments ›› Pat Dollard
Prof. Matt Friedeman tries to sway women at Mississippi’s only abortion clinic, saying, “The Lord wants you to love that baby.”
Excerpted from The New York Times: JACKSON, Miss. — It was only recently that Dr. Willie Parker began flying down here from Washington, heading to work at a vaultlike building that sits unassumingly on a busy thoroughfare. On his way in, he may pass Prof. Matt Friedeman, standing on the sidewalk with a Bible and a handful of pamphlets, having made the four-minute drive from his home as he has done once a week for years.
And once inside, Dr. Parker will begin seeing the young women who have made their way from all corners of the state to the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Mississippi’s only abortion clinic.
All of these journeys may end soon after July 1, when a new Mississippi law goes into effect. The law, which was passed this spring by large margins in the State Legislature, requires all physicians associated with an abortion clinic to have admitting privileges at local hospitals.
It is no secret that the physicians who do the majority of the work at the J.W.H.O. do not currently meet this requirement; three out of four of them, including Dr. Parker, do not even live in Mississippi.
“If it closes that clinic,” Gov. Phil Bryant was quoted as saying during the bill-signing ceremony, “then so be it.” Mississippi would then be the only state with no abortion clinic.
Diane Derzis, who owns the clinic, has threatened to sue. But for now the doctors at the clinic have been applying to local hospitals for admission, a process that will almost certainly not be over by July 1. What will happen that week remains unclear. A spokeswoman for the State Department of Health said that even if state officials inspect the clinic early on the Monday morning of July 2, as they plan to do, the clinic would have 10 days to come up with a plan of compliance and “a reasonable amount of time” to put that plan into effect.
But State Representative Sam Mims, the sponsor of the law, is determined that things will move faster this time.
In a June 20 letter, he asked the state health officer “to personally insure” that the law is fully enforced on July 2, and said his expectation was that any clinic not in compliance “must immediately cease performing abortions” until the requirements are met.
In a brief interview on Friday, Mr. Mims said that he was still discussing with legislative lawyers just how quickly the state was allowed to act.
For the clinic, it may simply be a matter of facing the threat of closing in either days or weeks, if the physicians are not granted admitting privileges. State officials are expecting a lawsuit if that happens.