It’s not a secret that one of the major controversial debates in the United States centers around abortion, and along with that, the presence of abortion clinics. On one side of the fence, women take the pro-life stance and consider it murder to abort an unborn child. On the other side are those pro-choice activists who believe a woman should have options when she faces an unwanted pregnancy. Of course, there’s much more to it than that, which makes the matter a complicated one overall with many angles.
We’re not here to argue either side or tell you what you should believe. However, if you do value one opinion over another, an awareness of where the issue stands is important in order to maintain a well-informed position.
Across the southeastern U.S., clinics are rapidly facing shutdowns due to abortion bans being signed and passed by lawmakers.
One particular abortion clinic in Mississippi – the only one remaining in the state, in fact – is fighting in court to stay open after Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant recently signed a 20-week ban with no exceptions for incest or rape.
This isn’t the first battle the clinic has undergone; anti-abortion activists continue to target the Jackson Women’s Health Organization in an effort to make Mississippi a completely abortion-free state. Just a few blocks from the clinic, the “Memorial of the Missing” can be found – a clear monument filled with pennies representing the unborn.
The law under debate this time demands that doctors at the clinic be board-certified and have admitting privileges at a local hospital in the Jackson area – not so easy to make happen when the clinic’s two doctors fly in each week from other states.
It’s really always been a challenge to legally have an abortion in Mississippi as restrictions have been in place for nearly as far back as the Roe v. Wade case of 1973. There are a number of steps and rules that must be followed prior to the actual procedure occurring. Women must first have an ultrasound and participate in in-person counseling, and there is then a 24-hour waiting period that begins after the counseling. Minors must have the consent of both parents unless it is a medical emergency, and the clinic currently only offers abortions up to the 16th week of pregnancy. The price of going through with an abortion is steep, too, and the state prohibits Medicaid from being used except in the cases of rape, incest, or medical emergencies. Travel also comes into play, given that Jackson isn’t exactly the closest city for every woman in the state.
At one point, there may have been neighboring states with closer options for some, but those are diminishing one by one. For example, the New Woman All Women clinic in Birmingham, Alabama lost a two-year legal battle that forced it to close its doors in August 2013, and the only enduring clinic in the city, Planned Parenthood Birmingham Center, slowed its services temporarily earlier in the year.
Pro-choice advocates worry that these laws will push women back to the times of back-alley procedures pre-Roe. Regardless of where your support lies, one thing is clear: the tables will continue to turn on the topic of abortion, and the only way to help turn them in your favor is to let your voice be heard.
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