Atlanta, GA – Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled to protect women’s access to safe, legal abortion in Mississippi by affirming a district court ruling preliminarily blocking a dangerous law requiring physicians who provide abortions at the sole abortion provider in the state to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. Data, including from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), shows that abortion has over a 99 percent safety record. Other outpatient procedures are not subject to the same level of regulation even if they have higher rates of complication. For patients’ safety, providers already have plans in place in case of an emergency.
“We all want to ensure women have access to safe medical care. This law doesn’t do that — which is why leading medical experts oppose it,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
If this law was allowed to take effect, access to safe and legal abortion in Mississippi would be completely eliminated, and women who already struggle to access health care would have to travel out of state, forcing abortion later in pregnancy, if a woman can have one at all. In its decision the court wrote, “A woman has the constitutional right to end her pregnancy by abortion. [This law] effectively extinguishes that right within Mississippi’s borders. Mississippi may not shift its obligation to respect the established constitutional rights of its citizens to another state.” In fact, at the trial on a similar law enacted in Wisconsin, an independent, court-appointed medical expert recently said of laws like this, “I think it is an unacceptable experiment to see if you decrease access [to abortion] and see if more women die. It is not acceptable. It is not ethical. People will resort to illegal abortions.”
“This ruling is not only a victory for women in Mississippi but for women across the region, as similar laws threaten to decimate access to safe, legal abortion in the south. For example, if this law went into effect in Mississippi, a woman in Jackson could be forced to make a 350-mile round trip to the next-closest provider in Baton Rouge — where similar restrictions are scheduled to go into effect this fall,” Richards continued.
Leading national medical groups, such as the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, oppose laws like these because they do not enhance patient safety. In fact, these laws put women at risk because they make it more difficult for quality health care providers to remain open.
“These restrictions are written by politicians and not medical experts. It’s clear the intent of this legislation is to end access to safe, legal abortion in Mississippi, and it is a victory for women and families that the court has ensured the last abortion provider can stay open,” said Staci Fox, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast.
“Women -- regardless of where they live -- have a constitutionally protected right to abortion. While today’s victory helps protect women against a harmful law, there’s still more work to be done to ensure all women in Mississippi have access to health care when they need it. Regardless of what happens in the courts, Planned Parenthood’s doors remain open in Mississippi, and we will continue to be here for our patients, who rely on us for cancer screenings, STD tests, birth control, and other essential health care,” Fox continued.
Planned Parenthood Southeast (PPSE) has served families in the Southeast for more than 80 years, and is a trusted provider of high-quality, affordable health care for thousands of women and men. PPSE is committed to making health care services available to those in need in communities across Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 700 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.
July 29, 2014