- Category: News
- Last Updated on Thursday, July 12 2012 21:44
(Reuters) - Mississippi's lone abortion clinic opened without incident on Monday after a last-minute court ruling prevented the state from enforcing a new law that could have forced it to close.
The Jackson Women's Health Organization had struggled to meet the demands of the controversial law that took effect on Sunday ahead of a state inspection scheduled for Monday.
But the inspection was scuttled when a federal judge on Sunday temporarily barred the state from requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. Experts said the legal fight could take months or years to resolve.
The ruling resulted in a routine day instead of a showdown for the clinic in Jackson, Mississippi's state capital. There were no abortions scheduled on Monday, but protesters stood outside as they do nearly every day, said clinic owner Diane Derzis.[Video after the jump]
"It's just like it always is," she said. "There's nothing different here today."
Attorneys for the clinic and the state will present their cases to a federal judge on July 11 on whether the temporary injunction should be extended.
The clinic argues that Mississippi's new law violates the constitution by placing undue restrictions on abortions.
Clinic doctors have not been able to obtain the necessary admitting privileges from any of the half-dozen hospitals within a 30-minute drive, despite trying since May, said clinic spokeswoman Betty Thompson.
The Mississippi Department of Health, named as a defendant in the case, argues that the clinic has had ample time to comply and would not face closure until it had exhausted an appeals process that could last at least two months.
The law has threatened to make Mississippi the only U.S. state without an abortion clinic and is expected to face an extended legal challenge. Abortion is a divisive issue in the United States that has long sparked heated debate.
"Both sides are passionate enough that it will be appealed to the Fifth Circuit, and from there, it's not very hard at all to conceive a leap to the U.S. Supreme Court," said Marty Wiseman, a political analyst at Mississippi State University in Starkville. "That will be several years down the road."