Court rules that law that would shut down Mississippi’s sole abortion clinic is unconstitutional


In the latest salvo in the battle to keep Mississippi’s only abortion clinic open, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the law designed to shut it down is unconstitutional.

“Pre-viability, a woman has the constitutional right to end her pregnancy by abortion. H.B. 1390 effectively extinguishes that right within Mississippi’s borders,” the judges wrote. While the state argued that Mississippians could always just cross the border to get an abortion in another state, the court said that’s not a good enough excuse for violating their citizen’s rights. “Mississippi may not shift its obligation to respect the established constitutional rights of its citizens to another state.” 

Admitting privilege laws have been passed in many southern states, with different responses from the courts. Texas’s admitting privilege law, identical to Mississippi’s, was upheld by another 5th Circuit panel last year. It seems that the courts consider closing the very last clinic in a state more extra-specially burdensome than shutting down half of the clinics in a state. While legally that may be, in the real world, in which people are actually trying to access abortions, it’s clear that neither Mississippi nor Texas are meeting the health care needs and constitutional rights of large swaths of their residents.

Women in the Rio Grande Valley are no less fucked just because they are “free” to travel 250 miles to San Antonio to end their pregnancies. Mississippi, a state of nearly 3 million people, still has just one single place to get an abortion. And the fact that a conservative court has to step in to ensure even that tells you all you need to know about how precarious the right to abortion in this country really is.

Maya DusenberyMaya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing.

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like,, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

Read more about Maya

Join the Conversation