JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi lawmakers have passed a bill that would require any doctor performing abortions at an abortion clinic to be a board-certified OB-GYN with admitting privileges at a local hospital. The state's sole abortion clinic, in Jackson, said the bill could shut them down.
Senators passed the bill Wednesday by a large majority, but it was held for the possibility of more debate. It passed the House on March 13.
Republican Gov. Phil Bryant said Tuesday that he intends to sign the bill into law once it hits his desk.
Clinic owner Diane Derzis told The Associated Press that all of the physicians on her staff are OB-GYN certified, but only one has admitting privileges to a local hospital.
Derzis said it is difficult for the clinic's doctors to obtain admitting privileges because hospitals usually do not grant this status to out of state physicians. She said the doctors live out of state because they are routinely threatened and stalked for their work.
"It takes a real commitment to women's health at great personal sacrifice," Derzis said.
Derzis said the clinic has a patient transfer agreement with a local hospital, which ensures a woman will be admitted if needed.
University of Mississippi Medical Center spokesman Tom Fortner said that although the hospital will only give admitting privileges physicians on the school's faculty, they will not deny a patient in urgent need of care.
Sen. Kenny Wayne Jones, D-Canton, asked Senate Public Health Committee Chairman Dean Kirby, R-Pearl, whether putting more regulations on the abortion clinic could cause it close, and whether that could then cause women to try to perform their own abortions.
"That's what we're trying to stop here, the coat-hanger abortions," Kirby said, referring to the abortion clinic. "The purpose of this bill is to stop back-room abortions."
Kirby also told the Senate he believed none of the physicians at the clinic would have met the requirements, which Derzis says is untrue.
Sen. Derrick Simmons, D-Greenville, called Kirby unprepared to speak on the bill.
"It came up during the debate that Chairman Kirby was considerably uninformed about the facts and data regarding the bill he presented," Simmons said.
Jones, Simmons, Sen. David Jordan, D-Greenwood, and Sen. John Horhn D-Jackson, are all members of the black caucus and all spoke against the bill. The legislators focused on the issue of gender and racial equality surrounding the abortion issue.
"People who have resources can do certain things," Jordan said, referring to private or out of state abortions that are more accessible to the wealthy. "I've got enough gray matter to know that women have got to have the ability to make these decisions themselves."
Jones called the bill a "backroom approach" to taking away women's rights.
"If you've locked a woman in the house, are you protecting her from society, or are you taking her rights away?" Jones asked Kirby.
"I think you're breaking the law," Kirby replied. Kirby said the purpose of the bill is to increase safety for the state's women and he is in favor of a woman's right to choose abortion in case of rape, incest or life endangerment.
Bill author Rep. Sam Mims V, R-McComb, said he believes life begins at conception and hopes the bill will result in fewer abortions.
Mims said he was "very pleased" the bill had passed the Senate.Tags: