No more abortions in Mississippi?

You probably recall that Mississippi residents last year voted down a constitutional amendment to change the legal definition of personhood to include fertilized human eggs. The amendment would have outlawed all abortions (including cases of rape or incest), many forms of birth control (including IUDs and morning-after pills), and embryonic research.

Since efforts to outright ban abortion in Mississippi have failed, lawmakers there are now pursuing a different track: work to put in place overwhelmingly stringent restrictions on abortion providers that could force them to shut their doors:

Mississippi lawmakers have passed a bill that would require any physician performing abortions in the state to be a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist and to have admitting privileges at an area hospital.

The bill “should effectively close the only abortion clinic in Mississippi,” said Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves in a statement. “This is a strong bill that will effectively end abortion in Mississippi.”

The bill is in a period for comment before it will be sent to Republican Gov. Phil Bryant, who has said he wants Mississippi to become “abortion-free.”

"This legislation is an important step in strengthening abortion regulations and protecting the health and safety of women," he said.

If the state’s only abortion facility, Jackson Women’s Health Organization, closes, Mississippi women seeking abortions would have to leave the state.

In short: if you can’t ban a (legal and safe) practice, restrict it so much that it becomes unavailable. 

The good news: every doctor at Jackson Women’s Health Organization is a obstetrician-gynecologist. The bad news: only one has admitting privileges at an area hospital. The clinic’s owner, Diane Derzis, has vowed to fight to remain open: “We are going to do everything we can to remain there … we are not going to let the women of Mississippi down.”

You can help Derzis — and, for that matter, all women in Mississippi — by telling Gov. Phil Bryant to veto the bill.

That said, no matter what Bryant does, the law is probably destined to end up before a judge — which actually bodes well for reproductive rights advocates.