Mississippi’s Women Deserve Protection


Fr. Frank Pavone

  National Review Online - New York, NY

Here’s the quote of the week from Mississippi:

“What we’ve got is the state saying who can do a medical procedure and who can’t, how they have to operate their office.”

That’s Diane Derzis, owner of the last abortion clinic in Mississippi, giving her opinion to a Jackson TV reporter this week, as pro-life protesters prayed outside under a blazing Southern sun.

Outside of abortion, states generally do say who can do a medical procedure and who can’t. Derzis, an abortion profiteer whose clinic in Birmingham was shut down in May after it was deemed unsafe for women, is fighting Mississippi’s attempt to safeguard women’s reproductive health in that state.

As Michael J. New noted below, a law set to go into effect on July 1, but blocked at the 11th hour by a federal judge, states:

All physicians associated with the abortion facility must have admitting privileges at a local hospital and staff privileges to replace local hospital on-staff physicians. All physicians associated with an abortion facility must be board certified or eligible in obstetrics and gynecology, and a staff member trained in CPR shall always be present at the abortion facility when it is open.

Reasonable people would be hard-pressed to find anything unreasonable in that law. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 39 states already have laws on the books requiring that abortions be performed by OB/GYNs. Nine states specify that abortionists must have admitting privileges at local hospitals. Ms. Derzis’s abortionists don’t have admitting privileges and she’s said she’s pretty sure they can’t get them.

For years, Operation Rescue has been monitoring Ms. Derzis and her abortion clinics, including facilities in Georgia and Tennessee. On their website you’ll find information you have not yet read or heard from Mississippi, even though this story is making headlines from coast to coast: The abortionist who sent three women to the hospital in Birmingham in January — prompting the investigation that closed the place — is the same one who has been performing abortions in Jackson for years. He’s identified in court papers as Dr. John Doe, but his real name is Bruce Elliot Norman.

Several weeks ago, Ms. Derzis trotted out Dr. Willie Parker, an abortionist who incomprehensibly cites his Christian faith and the teachings of Martin Luther King to justify his dubious career choice. His argument is that he hasn’t sent anyone to the hospital in Mississippi, so why should he have to go through the fuss of getting admitting privileges?

But according to Operation Rescue, he hardly had time to botch a Mississippi abortion: He was hired June 18.

The attempt to keep Elliot’s identity a secret while naming Parker as a plaintiff is more of the same dishonesty that characterizes the abortion industry as a whole and Ms. Derzis’s facilities in particular. When she was forced to surrender her license in Birmingham, a brand new corporation attempted to take over the facility and continue running it as an abortion clinic. Thanks to the efforts of Operation Rescue, the Charismatic Episcopal Church and other pro-life groups, and the Fox affiliate in Birmingham, it was determined that the new corporation had close ties to the old abortion boss. The clinic remains closed.

Ms. Derzis’s supporters are trying to make the case that the intention of the law is to make Mississippi the first state in the union where there is no free-standing abortion clinic. When he signed the law in April, Governor Phil Bryant said he wouldn’t mind if that’s indeed what happens. But the intention of the law is to make sure that women’s health is safe-guarded and abortionists only kill their intended victims — that is, the baby in the womb.

We’re going to need a much bigger law to protect them.

— Father Frank Pavone is the national director of Priests for Life.