The only abortion clinic in the state of Mississippi came one step closer to closure today. Last year, the state passed an ordinance requiring all of the doctors working at the Jackson Women's Health Organization to have hospital admission privileges in order to continue operating. The deadline to comply with the order came earlier this week; only one of the four doctors currently employed at the clinic has admitting privileges.
Workers at the clinic were unable to obtain admitting privileges from any of the nearby hospitals.
Clinic administrator Diane Derzis said every Jackson-area hospital where the clinic applied for privileges said no.
"They were clear that they didn't deal with abortion and they didn't want the internal or the external pressure of dealing with it," Derzis told The Associated Press in a phone interview Friday.
With or without admitting privileges, any patient in need at the Jackson clinic can currently be transferred to an emergency room. The clinic will not close right away, however. The next step, according to Mississippi's health department, will be a state inspection. If the state orders a closure, the clinic can appeal the decision, although they will face a hostile environment.
From Mississippi governor Phil Bryant:
"My goal, of course, is to shut it [the clinic] down," Bryant said Thursday. "Now, we'll follow the laws. The bill is in the courts now, related to the physicians and their association with a hospital. But, certainly, if I had the power to do so legally, I'd do so tomorrow."
If the clinic closes, the nearest health center providing abortion services will be "three hours away and over the state line." Mississippi currently has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the country.