Mississippi clinic ends challenge of near-ban on abortion

Published 1:30 pm Wednesday, July 20, 2022

The Mississippi abortion clinic that was at the center of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade ended a lawsuit Tuesday in which it had sought to block the state from enforcing a law that bans most abortions.

Jackson Women’s Health Organization dropped its litigation a day after clinic owner Diane Derzis told The Associated Press that she sold the facility and had no intention to reopen it, even if a state court allowed her to do so.

“If the clinic is not in a position to reopen in Mississippi, it no longer has a basis to pursue this case in the courts,” Rob McDuff, a Mississippi Center for Justice attorney who was among those representing the clinic, said in a statement. Derzis said the clinic’s furniture and equipment have been moved to a new abortion clinic she will open soon in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Court battles over access to abortion are playing out in multiple states following the Supreme Court’s June 24 ruling, which gave states the authority to set their own laws on abortion. On Tuesday, West Virginia’s only abortion clinic resumed scheduling patients for abortions, after a judge ruled in its favor. And new restrictions on some abortions were in effect in Indiana after a judge lifted a hold on them.

The Mississippi clinic — best known as the Pink House because of its bright paint job — stopped offering medication-induced and surgical abortions July 6, the day before Mississippi enacted a law that bans most abortions. Mississippi was one of several states with a trigger law that went into effect after the Supreme Court ruling.

The Mississippi trigger law, passed in 2007, says abortion is legal only if the pregnant woman’s life is in danger or if a pregnancy is caused by a rape reported to law enforcement. It does not have an exception for pregnancies caused by incest.

On July 5, a state court judge rejected a request by the clinic’s attorneys to block the trigger law from taking effect. The clinic appealed the ruling to the state Supreme Court, citing a 1998 ruling that said the state constitution invokes a right to privacy that “includes an implied right to choose whether or not to have an abortion.”

Because the clinic is dropping its lawsuit, the Mississippi Supreme Court will not issue a new ruling.