State's Only Abortion Clinic Remains Open for Now

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For a second time, a federal judge has blocked a new law regulating abortion clinics in Mississippi.

Jackson Women's Health Organization is the only abortion clinic left in the state, and its owners claim the law is a backdoor attempt to close it down and make the state abortion-free.

U.S. District Judge Daniel P. Jordan III said he wants to see more evidence.

Mississippi lawmakers aren't shy about their desire to end abortions in the state, but for now the clinic can remain open.

The heated debate has led to tight security in and outside the federal court.

The case involves a new state law that requires out-of-state doctors to have admitting privileges at local hospitals.

Leaders of the abortion clinic said it has been unable to obtain those admitting privileges for its two out-of-state doctors because local hospitals have not responded to their requests. The clinic wants the law put on hold so it can continue to operate.

Judge Jordan said he would only focus on the letter of the state law.

"We hope and we pray that nothing goes wrong, but if something does, we want that physician to be able to follow the patient at a local hospital," Republican Rep. Sam Mims said.

In court, attorneys for the state claim they haven't threatened to shut down the clinic.

"All the state is doing here is applying a common sense health and safety provision to abortion that applies to all ambulatory surgical centers in the state of Mississippi," Steven Aden, the state's consulting attorney, said.

The abortion clinic owner said political pressure is driving this fight.

"Absolutely they're out to close us down; they've not made a secret of that," said Diane Derzis, the owner of the abortion clinic. "As much as they're backing off from that now, there is too much out there, too much written words."

The judge wants to know if the state will try to bring criminal prosecution without giving the clinic a grace period to comply with the law.

Clinic operators could have as long as six months to come into compliance.

The judge didn't say if he will wait that long to rule if the law should take effect.

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Mark Martin is a reporter and anchor at CBN News, covering various issues from military matters to alternative fuels. Mark has reported internationally in the Middle East and traveled to Bahrain to cover stories on the U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkMartinCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/MarkMartinCBN.