Supreme Court denies abortion clinic’s motion for expedited review

Published: Jul. 8, 2022 at 4:24 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Jackson Women’s Health Organization’s desire to reopen the week of July 11 likely are not going to come to fruition, barring a decision from a federal court.

Friday, the Mississippi Supreme Court denied a petition from the Fondren-based abortion clinic asking for an expedited review of its appeal of the state’s Trigger Law, which went into effect July 7.

The clinic closed on Wednesday, the day before the law went into effect. Attorneys for JWHO filed two motions with the state high court in hopes of reopening the clinic while their legal challenge to the law makes it through the court system.

A panel of three justices - Jim Kitchens, Dawn Beam, and Kenny Griffis - denied the requests late Friday afternoon.

The order was issued shortly after Kitchens issued another order on Friday giving Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch until July 25 to respond to JWHO’s petition.

JHWO had urged the court to expedite the appeals process, saying that being closed until July 25 would prevent women from having access to abortion care for two at least two weeks.

“The deprivation of constitutional rights and the harms of forced pregnancy and childbirth are substantial and irreversible,” attorneys for the clinic argued. “Absent relief from this court, the harm will continue.”

JWHO had hoped to reopen the week of July 11 and had asked the court to expedite its appeal of a lower court’s ruling to deny blocking the trigger laws from going into effect.

After Kitchens handed down his order Friday, JWHO filed another motion again urging the high court to act more quickly.

“The bans prohibit nearly all abortion care in this state and impose draconian criminal and civil penalties on petitioners who would, but for the bans, provide abortion care as they have for decades,” attorneys wrote.

JHWO is represented by the Mississippi Center for Justice and the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Friday’s filings represent another round in the legal battle over access to abortion in the Magnolia State.

On July 5, a specially appointed chancellor denied a request from the Fondren-based abortion clinic to block the state’s trigger law and 6-week abortion ban from taking effect, saying that any decision she made would likely be appealed to the Supreme Court.

For its part, JWHO said abortions are guaranteed under the state constitution, based on a ruling in the 1998 Mississippi Supreme Court ruling in Pro-Choice Mississippi v. Fordice.

Chancellor Debbra Halford disagreed, saying that the 1998 ruling was based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that guaranteed abortions on the federal level.

However, in June, that court overturned Roe, saying the procedures were not protected in the U.S. Constitution.

“Since Roe and Casey are no longer the law of the land, reliance on Fordice will almost certainly not be well-founded when pursuing this case in the Supreme Court,” she wrote.

She said JWHO would likely not prevail in its case, and would not issue an injunction to block the Trigger Law as a result.

JWHO’s closed on Wednesday, the day before the state’s ban on most abortions became official.

The following day, on July 7, attorneys for the clinic filed a petition with the high court, asking it to block the trigger law until the case could be decided.

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