(Jackson) Mississippi on Thursday became the seventh U.S. state to ban abortions since the Supreme Court flip-flopped, resulting in final face-offs outside a clinic in Jackson.
Radiant or angry, defenders and opponents of the right to abortion clashed in front of the establishment “Jackson Women’s Health Organization”, at the heart of the Supreme Court’s decision to revoke the right to abortion.
Nicknamed “the pink house” because of the color of its walls, the establishment performed its last abortions on Wednesday and received its last patients on Thursday for follow-up consultations.
Brandishing large posters calling for “love God with all your heart, soul, strength and spirit”, dozens of abortion opponents greeted them with prayers and music.
Opposite, the defenders of the right to abortion replied with placards referring to the high rate of maternal mortality in the State: “Why are you more interested in hypothetical lives than in real ones? or “abortion is medical care”.
Cheryl Hamlin, one of the doctors who worked in the clinic until then, violently attacked opponents of abortion, accusing them of not “respecting women’s rights”.
The “Pink House” was for years the only clinic to perform abortions in this conservative and very religious southern state. As such, she had taken legal action when local legislators had passed a law reducing the legal time limits for abortion.
The file had reached the Supreme Court which, on June 24, took the opportunity to bury its historic judgment Roe v. Wade of 1973 guaranteeing the right of women to terminate their pregnancy.
Anticipating this decision, 13 states had adopted laws to automatically ban abortions on their soil. It’s one of those “zombie” or “trigger” laws that went into effect Thursday in Mississippi. Adopted in 2007, it provides for ten-year prison sentences for violations.
Diane Derzis, owner of Maison Rose, now plans to move to Las Cruces, New Mexico. “For now, it is a very receptive state where we are welcome,” she explained on public radio NPR.
Other clinics are also moving to this state or to Illinois, but “I am not sure that there will be enough establishments to accommodate all the women in the South” who will soon be deprived of access to abortion, she added.
For the moment, seven American states totally ban abortions. Legal battles are delaying the deadline in Louisiana in particular, but, in the long term, access to abortion should disappear in half of the country.