A De Facto Abortion Ban In Mississippi?

Molly Redden warns that the Magnolia State might soon be “the first state in 41 years—since Roe v. Wade—to be without a single legal abortion provider”:

[T]he odds don’t look good. The law, HB 1390, requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a local hospital or face criminal penalties. Obtaining admitting privileges, however, poses an impossible burden, since most of Mississippi’s providers travel to Jackson from out of state and local hospitals have all refused to be associated with abortion.

Hillary Crosley confirms that the state’s goal in this legal battle is to ban abortion entirely:

[Paul] Barnes [of the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office] argued that the Supreme Court upheld the Constitution’s guarantee to an abortion but not one that risks the patient’s life. He continued that the law demanding admittance privileges is merely trying to save women’s lives! It has nothing to do with banning abortion in the state! Though Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant publicly expressed exactly that as his goal earlier this year and is incrementally dismantling the practice at home. According to Mother Jones, the Jackson Women’s doctors have been rejected for admitting privileges at every hospital they’ve applied or barred from submitting applications at all. In addition, just last week Bryant banned abortions at 20 weeks, with no exceptions for rape or incest. The law takes effect July 1.

Amanda Marcotte is pessimistic:

The 5th Circuit is notoriously right-leaning and recently decided to uphold a similar law in Texas, forcing many clinics in the state to shutter their doors or stop providing abortions. The fact that these kinds of regulations are not medically necessary at all doesn’t seem to matter to the court, as Irin Carmon of MSNBC writes. The 5th Circuit judge on the Texas case wrote that legislators have every right to craft medical regulations “based on rational speculation unsupported by evidence or empirical data.” In other words, the court has found that facts and evidence need not apply here, and if a state wants to make up regulations out of thin air that have no medical basis of support but just happen to end legal access to abortion, they should feel free to do so.

With that kind of precedent, it’s not looking good for the last abortion clinic in Mississippi. And as Carmon notes, if the 5th Circuit goes this expected way, it will create a path for other highly conservative Southern states to functionally ban abortion without coming right out and banning it. It’s not entirely crazy to think that, eventually, women who need abortions in the South won’t just have to travel to the next state—they’ll have to come North.