Federal judge Daniel Jordan III extended his temporary restraining order July 11 against a state law that could close Jackson Women's Health Organization, the last abortion clinic in Mississippi, The Jackson Clarion-Ledger reported. Jordan initially had issued a restraining order July 1, the day the law went into effect.
Mississippi enacted in April a requirement that a doctor who performs abortions must be certified as an obstetrician/gynecologist and have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. The Jackson clinic's doctors do not have such privileges, according to The Clarion-Ledger.
In his latest action, Jordan said he needed time to review new rules for implementing the law that were approved the same day by the Department of Health, the newspaper reported. Jordan will decide whether to issue a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the law while the suit by the abortion clinic goes forward.
Dana Chisholm, president of Pro-life Mississippi, expressed disappointment Jordan did not permit the law to be enforced in the meantime.
"We have maintained from the beginning that this law is about women's health, and no organization or person should be allowed to be a danger to women just because they do so in the name of abortions," she said, according to The Clarion-Ledger. "This is and always has been about protecting women, not about protecting abortionists nor political sacred cows."
A spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood, the country's leading abortion provider, commended the judge's ruling. "Today's decision means a woman in Mississippi will continue to be able to make her own personal health care decisions in consultation with her family, her faith, and her physician -- at least for the time being," said Kay Scott, president of Planned Parenthood Southeast, in a written statement.
Initiatives by the Mississippi legislature to adopt health and safety regulations and other restrictions regarding abortion have helped produce a dramatic reduction in abortions over the last two decades. The state total has dropped from more than 8,000 abortions in 1991 to less than 2,800 in 2010, according to Mississippi Right to Life.
Compiled by Tom Strode, Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.
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