Mississippi’s Last Abortion Clinic to Close
For months, professionally trained escorts were required to protect patients from the mob of begging, noisy anti-abortion activists hounding them all the way into Jackson’s last abortion clinic. The escorts, courtesy of Pink House Defenders, walked patients through the throng of mostly white religious zealots while defusing fights and shouting matches. If you apply to volunteer for Pink House Defenders now, you’ll be turned away.
“We’re not taking on new volunteers because there’s a training process and a lot more to escorting than meets the eye. It wouldn’t be feasible for the tiny bit of time we have left,” says Derenda Hancock, co-organizer of Pink House Defenders. “We quit taking volunteers about a month ago when the [Supreme Court] leak came out because our program will be defunct in a few days. There are no Pink House Defenders.”
Today, June 26, the Supreme Court reversed the settled law of the 1973 landmark abortion decision Roe v. Wade and ended the right to abortion for American citizens in states that have ruled to make it illegal. President Joe Biden said in a press statement that the court “Didn’t limit it, they took it away,” and called it “A sad day for the court and for the country.”
Mississippi is one of many states with a majority white and male legislature that voted to make abortion immediately illegal in the event of Roe being reversed by the Supreme Court. Today those trigger laws will take effect, eventually removing women’s bodily autonomy in Mississippi, and other states with similar trigger laws.
U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal pointed out that five of the six supreme court justices ending Roe “Were appointed by presidents that lost the popular vote,” while others argued that the U.S. is no longer a nation ruled by the majority.
Former president Trump appointed three members to the Supreme Court, including Justices Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, who swung the court 6-to-3 in conservatives’ favor, despite lying that Roe was “settled law” in Senate interviews. Trump won the white House while receiving almost three million fewer votes than his opponent Hillary Clinton, thanks to the nation’s undemocratic Electoral College established to protect southern slave owners.
Critics also warned that Mississippi’s rank invasion into women’s privacy would push many women not to take jobs in Mississippi and other southern states.
Abortion opponents cheered the decision, including Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, while other Republicans, goaded by the success, called for a wider nationwide ban.
“Now that Roe v. Wade has been consigned to the ash heap of history, a new arena in the cause of life has emerged, and it is incumbent on all who cherish the sanctity of life to resolve that we will take the defense of the unborn and the support for women in crisis pregnancy centers to every state in America,” said former vice president Mike Pence. “… [W]e must not rest and must not relent until the sanctity of life is restored to the center of American law in every state in the land.”
The court’s decision means abortion will be illegal or extremely restricted in 13 states within 30 days of the June decision. Several other states with abortion bans blocked by the courts will be reinstating those bans. Abortion access in other states will depend on whether midterm elections deliver new anti-abortion Republicans into power. Only about 20 states are likely to stay in “protected status” for legal abortion, but Hancock said the procedure in those states and in the rest of the nation is already well under attack.
“There are only a few so-called safe states, but those states are not really safe. The anti-abortion movement is already putting legislators into play who will attack abortion in those states,” Hancock said. “There will be a few that might last five years, but from here it looks like Roe v. Wade is ended and abortion is getting ready to be illegal in the rest of the nation.”
Mississippi’s law allows abortion exceptions in the event of rape or incest, but conservative legislators are already pushing to remove those exemptions.
The decision will have an unbalanced affect upon the nation’s Black population because roughly half of the Black population resides in the south, where white GOP legislators are targeting abortion. It does not help that Black women are three times as likely to die from pregnancy related health problems as white women.
Critics say if there was ever a time to vote to preserve reproductive rights the midterms are the place to begin that fight.