Mississippi’s lone abortion clinic will remain open after an appeals court criticized as probably illegal a state law requiring doctors who perform the procedure obtain hospital admitting privileges.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans said enforcement of the law will continue to be suspended while litigation by the clinic proceeds. In a 2-to-1 decision, the court upheld a lower court judge who rejected Mississippi’s argument that women may still obtain abortions in neighboring states.
“Mississippi may not shift its obligation to respect the established constitutional rights of its citizens to another state,” U.S. Circuit Judge Grady Jolly wrote. “Such a proposal would not only place an undue burden on the exercise of the constitutional right, but would also disregard a state’s obligation under the principal of federalism” to safeguard the rights of all citizens.
The ruling is not a final determination by the appeals court on the validity of the law. Rather, it allows the injunction to remain in place while the state defends the law in the lower court. The appeals panel narrowed the scope of the stay to apply only to the parties in the case, meaning that any new abortion clinics would have to file their own lawsuit.
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