U.S. Judge Continues to Block Mississippi Abortion Law

A Mississippi law that opponents say would effectively ban abortion in the state will remain temporarily blocked until additional materials submitted by officials to a federal court are reviewed, a judge ruled, according to an attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights.

The law, which was to take effect July 1, requires physicians associated with an abortion facility to have admitting privileges at a local hospital and be certified or eligible in obstetrics and gynecology. Today’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Daniel Jordan III in Jackson, Mississippi, couldn’t be confirmed in court records.

The Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the state’s only clinic providing elective abortions, sued to stop the state health department from enforcing the rules, saying it hasn’t been able to obtain admitting privileges for two physicians and the legislation is unconstitutional.

“All this did was push back the ruling we’ve been waiting for on our request for a preliminary injunction,” Michelle Movahed, a lawyer for the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a phone interview.

Extended Order

On July 1, Jordan issued a temporary restraining order blocking enforcement of the rules, until today’s hearing to determine whether a preliminary injunction should be issued. He extended that restraining order after hearing about 2 1/2 hours of argument, according to Movahed, one of two lawyers who argued in court against the measure.

Jordan ordered the state to submit rules issued today on how its health department plans to enforce the regulations, according to Movahed. Shortly after the hearing, the state filed a copy of those rules with the court, according to a court filing.

Liz Sharlot, a spokeswoman for the Mississippi Department of Health, declined to comment on the ruling.

The case is Jackson Women’s Health Organization v. Currier, 12-00436, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Mississippi (Jackson).