Mississippi's sole abortion clinic closes

Jackson Women's Health Organisation had been unsuccessful in getting local courts to block a state law

Derenda Hancock, co-director of the Jackson Women's Health Organisation clinic patient escorts, speaks with anti-abortion advocate Boris Campos outside the clinic in Jackson, Mississippi. AP
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The only clinic performing abortions in Mississippi, the state at the heart of the US Supreme Court's historic about-face on women's reproductive rights, closed its doors on Wednesday for the final time.

The Jackson Women's Health Organisation, nicknamed the Pink House because of the building's colourful walls, performed its last pregnancy-ending procedures before a law banning all abortions goes into effect in the conservative, impoverished state in the US South.

“Today is a hard day for all of us @ the last abortion provider in Mississippi,” The Pink House Fund, which raised donations to keep the institution running, posted on Twitter.

“It is our last day fighting against all the odds — of being there when no other providers would or could. We are proud of the work we have done here.”

Jackson Women's Health had triggered the legal process that eventually led to the US Supreme Court's June 24 decision to overturn Roe v Wade, the 1973 ruling that had enshrined the nationwide right to abortion in the US.

The clinic had filed a lawsuit against a Mississippi law that would restrict abortion to 15 weeks.

With the case, the high court — which has shifted to the right with the appointment of three conservative justices by president Donald Trump — gave each state the freedom to ban or maintain the legality of abortions within their borders.

Thirteen states, anticipating the seismic shift by the court, passed trigger laws designed to take effect immediately after the overturning of Roe.

Mississippi's law, passed in 2007, carries penalties of up to 10 years in prison for violations, and provides exceptions only in cases of danger to the life of the mother, but not for rape or incest.

The Pink House had asked local courts to block the law, but they refused, leaving the clinic with no choice but to close.

With most neighbouring states equally hostile to abortion, women in Mississippi who wish to end a pregnancy will have to resort to using abortion-inducing pills or travelling in some cases hundreds of kilometres to have an abortion in states like Illinois.

Elsewhere in the country, several other facilities have gone out of business.

Whole Woman's Health announced on Wednesday it was shuttering its four Texas clinics and opening a new one in neighbouring New Mexico.

Missouri's only clinic performing abortions, operated by Planned Parenthood in St Louis, also stopped all such procedures as of June 23.

Legal battles have delayed the end date in Louisiana, for example, but ultimately abortion access is expected to disappear in about half of the country's 50 states.

Mississippi’s last abortion clinic faces tense final days

Updated: July 07, 2022, 11:17 PM