An abortion clinic in the state of Mississippi that was at the centre of the United States Supreme Court decision that overturned the landmark Roe v Wade decision has ended its lawsuit that sought to block the state from enforcing a law that bans most abortions.
Jackson Women’s Health Organization dropped its litigation on Tuesday, a day after clinic owner Diane Derzis said that she sold the facility and had no intention to reopen it, even if a state court allowed her to do so.
“If the clinic is not in a position to reopen in Mississippi, it no longer has a basis to pursue this case in the courts,” Rob McDuff, a Mississippi Center for Justice lawyer who was among those representing the clinic, said in a statement.
Derzis said the clinic’s furniture and equipment have been moved to a new abortion clinic she will open soon in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
NEW: Due to the selling of The Pink House — Mississippi's last remaining abortion clinic — we have dismissed our lawsuit to the state Supreme Court calling for abortion to resume in the state. Our full release here: https://t.co/8Dkjsa65Nx
— Mississippi Center for Justice (@justice4ms) July 19, 2022
The development comes amid growing polarisation over access to abortion in the US, after the Supreme Court overturned the 1973 right to abortion in a ruling on June 24, which gave states the authority to set their own laws on abortion. The decision reversed more than five decades of the federal guarantee of abortion rights and has unleashed intense debate and protests by conservatives and liberals over the issue while court battles have been playing out in multiple states.
Facing mounting pressure – including from his own Democratic party – US President Joe Biden earlier this month signed an executive order that his administration said will help secure access to abortion.
Mississippi’s abortion clinic, the state’s only one, was the subject of the conservative-majority US Supreme Court’s June 24 decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturning Roe, which had recognised women’s right to abortion under the US constitution.
The Mississippi clinic — best known as the Pink House because of its bright paint job — stopped offering medication-induced and surgical abortions July 6, the day before Mississippi enacted a law that bans most abortions. Mississippi was one of several states with a trigger law that went into effect after the Supreme Court ruling.
Mississippi is one of 13 states with “trigger” laws designed to ban or restrict abortions if Roe was overturned. Mississippi’s 2007 law bans abortions at any stage of pregnancy except to protect a pregnant woman’s life or in cases of rape reported to law enforcement. It does not have an exception for pregnancies caused by incest.
On July 5, a state court judge rejected a request by the clinic’s attorneys to block the trigger law from taking effect. The clinic appealed the ruling to the state Supreme Court, citing a 1998 ruling that said the state constitution invokes a right to privacy that “includes an implied right to choose whether or not to have an abortion”.
Since the clinic is dropping its lawsuit, the Mississippi Supreme Court will not issue a new ruling.