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July 12, 2012

Judge continues Miss. abortion injunction

JACKSON, Miss. (UPI) -- A U.S. judge Wednesday continued a temporary injunction against a Mississippi law opponents said could shut down the state's only abortion clinic.

But the judge didn't say how long it would be before he decides whether the injunction should be permanent, WAPT News, Jackson, reported.

The state law would allow only obstetricians and gynecologists with hospital privileges to perform abortions. None of the physicians at the clinic have those credentials. U.S. District Judge Daniel P. Jordan temporarily blocked the implementation of the law July 1.

The state said the law is designed to protect women. Opponents of the law said it is designed to deny access to abortion in Mississippi.

At the beginning of Wednesday's hearing, Jordan warned attorneys, "This is a court of law, not a political debate," WAPT reported

Attorney Michelle Movahed, from the Center for Reproductive Rights and representing the clinic, said there is a "public hostility from the elected officials in the state to abortion." Clinic attorneys contended failure to comply with the law could open doctors to criminal prosecution.

"Any assumption that might happen is speculation," said Ben Bryant, of the Mississippi Attorney General's Office, while defending the law, WAPT reported.

The state says the clinic would have six months to comply with the new law, and Bryant argued that, "There has been no such credible threat" of prosecution.

Robert McDuff, an attorney representing the clinic, asked Jordan to extend the injunction, saying if the law is allowed to take effect, doctors and nurses could be prosecuted, or an effort could be made to revoke their licenses.

"No one has given an assurance that won't happen," McDuff told the court.

However Jordan rules on a permanent injunction, the case is expected to be appealed.

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