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Law that would shut down Mississippi’s only abortion clinic is reviewed by 5th Circuit

Posted Apr 29, 2014 8:17 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Federal appeals judges on Monday considered the constitutionality of a Mississippi law that requires doctors performing abortions to have admission privileges at nearby hospitals.

The law is similar to a Texas law upheld in March by the same appeals court, the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. But the effect of the law is different, the New York Times reports, because Mississippi has only one abortion clinic and its primary doctors were denied hospital admission privileges, which would force the clinic to close. The Associated Press also has a story.

In the Texas case, the 5th Circuit found the law did not create an undue burden for women seeking abortions. The law reduced the number of doctors who could perform abortions and required some women to travel further for an abortion, the appeals court said, but “the burden does not fall on the vast majority of Texas women seeking abortions.”

A different 5th Circuit panel is considering the Mississippi case. A lawyer for the state argued that women seeking abortions could still go to clinics outside the state. Judge E. Grady Jolly countered that argument. “The state of Mississippi cannot shift its constitutional obligations onto other states,” he said.

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