Mississippi’s last abortion clinic closes : NPR


Clinic escorts use horns and whistles to counter the presence of anti-abortion activist Gabriel Olivier, right, outside the Jackson Women’s Health Organization clinic in Jackson, Mississippi, July 6, 2022.

Rogelio V. Solis/AP


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Mississippi's last abortion clinic closes : NPR

Clinic escorts use horns and whistles to counter the presence of anti-abortion activist Gabriel Olivier, right, outside the Jackson Women’s Health Organization clinic in Jackson, Mississippi, July 6, 2022.

Rogelio V. Solis/AP

Mississippi’s last abortion clinic — and the one at the center of the Supreme Court case used to overturn Roe vs. Wade — closed its doors for the last time.

Earlier this week, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization lost its bid to temporarily block the state’s trigger law that bans most abortions from taking effect. Now they’re packing up and moving, said clinic owner Diane Derzis.

They served the last crowd of patients on Wednesday.

Patients are ‘devastated’ by clinic closure, Derzis told NPR Morning edition.

“And you’d be surprised how many people have no idea that this bill passed and abortion is now illegal in Jackson, as well as other surrounding states. So angry,” a- she said of the response.

On Thursday, the clinic’s attorneys filed paperwork asking the Mississippi Supreme Court to intervene and effectively allow the organization to reopen, according to The Associated Press.

The center had long been Mississippi’s only provider of abortions. In 2018, the state enacted a law banning abortion after 15 weeks. Jackson’s clinic and one of its doctors sued state officials, claiming the law was unconstitutional. The case made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where the justices ultimately ruled there was no constitutional right to abortion.

Mississippi's last abortion clinic closes : NPR

Abortion rights advocates posted signs of support on the privacy fence outside the Jackson Women’s Health Organization clinic in Jackson, Mississippi on July 7, 2022.

Rogelio V. Solis/AP


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toggle caption

Rogelio V. Solis/AP

Mississippi's last abortion clinic closes : NPR

Abortion rights advocates posted signs of support on the privacy fence outside the Jackson Women’s Health Organization clinic in Jackson, Mississippi on July 7, 2022.

Rogelio V. Solis/AP

In the meantime, Derzis is unswayed. She intends to continue to provide abortion services to women who need them.

The clinic is now heading to Las Cruces, New Mexico, about 40 miles north of El Paso, Texas, to help people there, she said.

“New Mexico, at the moment, is a very receptive state. We were well received. And it’s obviously closer to the borders of Texas and Oklahoma and Arizona. So it seemed to be the one of the places we needed to be,” Derzis said.

These states have passed or plan to establish near-total bans on abortion following the Supreme Court case this summer.

Derzis’ organization will provide surgical abortions in New Mexico, she said.

In the meantime, her clinic is referring Mississippi patients who are still calling the Jackson Women’s Health Organization for help to other locations out of state.

“We probably sent 100 people back yesterday to a neighboring state,” she said. Many of his patients ended up in Columbus, Georgia. She thinks many women in states without access to the procedure will have to travel to get an abortion now.

“So, you know, this is the future of abortion care in America,” she said.

At Las Cruces, Derzis said she was preparing to handle many cases. They will probably be women more advanced in their pregnancy.

“You don’t normally find out you’re pregnant until you’re over six weeks pregnant. So by the time time travel and all those other things are happening, you’re talking about women who are going to be further in their pregnancy, so we certainly expect that,” she said. “And that, again, is another issue with these kinds of laws. You force women into a later gestational age, and the risks increase at that point.”

Derzis doesn’t think the legal battle will end anytime soon. She even believes that she is moving into another more receptive state, she has a target on her back.

“I see many, many years of litigation ahead of us,” she said. “But as long as it’s legal in the state in which we provide the service, I intend to do so.”


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