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Lawsuit challenges Mississippi abortion restrictions

[JURIST] Jackson Women's Health Organization [website] and others filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] on Monday challenging a number of Mississippi abortion restrictions.

The lawsuit claims Mississippi's abortion restrictions have been "designed to choke off access to abortion in the state, primarily by decreasing the number of providers of abortion care, while at the same time delaying and misinforming women who manage to reach these providers." The lawsuit argues that Mississippi's abortion laws place a large burden on families because women have to visit a clinic twice to obtain an abortion, but only visit once for any other comparable care. The complaint says it also places an undue burden on women due to the only abortion clinic left in the state of Mississippi is in Jackson and could force women to incur additional expenses or require explanations to partners or family members that could put them at risk.

The lawsuit is being brought under the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, and is seeking an injunction to prevent enforcement. The laws challenged are: the licensing regulations that require more regulations than that of other health providers who preform office-based procedures, the two trip requirements, the requirement of false information being provided to patients or face prosecution, the prohibition on qualified advanced practice clinicians providing abortion care, and the prohibition on the practice of telemedicine that only applies to abortion.

The lawsuit is in response to a number of Mississippi's laws to restrict abortion, but also to the newest law enacted by the legislature. The Mississippi Gestational Age Act [Act PDF] would prohibit an abortion on a fetus with a gestational age of more than 15 weeks. The Gestational Act is currently blocked by a federal court because it is challenged in another lawsuit. [JURIST Report].

The lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of Southern Mississippi.

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