The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals today held unconstitutional a Mississippi law aimed at closing that state’s last legal abortion provider.
The law required doctors at the clinic to have hospital admitting privileges. No Jackson hospitals would extend the privileges. Mississippi said, so what? Women can go to another state.
In this region, of course, the options are increasingly limited. Arkansas has only one abortion clinic.
Legislatures, particularly in the South, are bent on passing as many anti-abortion bills as possible — federal precedents notwithstanding — to de facto ban abortion without passing blatantly unconstitutional laws. Some places also pass unconstitutional laws. Arkansas passed two — one banning most abortions at 12 weeks, already struck down; and one banning abortions at 20 weeks, awaiting an appropriate case on which to challenge the statute.
In that vein, it was announced today that anti-abortion organizations, both Arkansas and National Right to Life, have endorsed Republican Rep. Tom Cotton, in part because he supports an unconstitutional federal proposal to ban most abortions after the first trimester of pregnancy. This cutoff is weeks before the viable fetus standard in existing law. Cotton actually is far more radical. He favors laws that grant personhood to fertilized eggs, a radical concept that would mean the end of morning-after pills for rape victims, create severe problems for in vitro fertilization programs (which can lead to destruction of embryos) and raise difficult questions about medical intervention in problem pregnancies.