The bright pink building in an eclectic neighborhood in the Mississippi capital goes by different names. For anti-abortion protesters whose protests triggered a noise ordinance, it’s an “abortion mill.” For those who work and volunteer there, the facility known as the “Pink House” is Mississippi’s last safe haven for women who choose to have an abortion.
Today, Mississippi’s only abortion clinic faces what could be its biggest challenge. The United States Supreme Court said Monday it would hear arguments this fall over a Mississippi law that would limit abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy – a case designed to test how far a court remade under former President Donald Trump is ready to go to curtail the law. to an abortion.
Mississippi law of 2018 was suspended due to the legal brawl. If the judges allowed it, it wouldn’t have a huge impact on who can have an abortion in Mississippi. Jackson Women’s Health Organization health care providers do not perform abortions after 16 weeks. But clinic director Shannon Brewer said continuing the ban would prompt lawmakers in conservative states to impose more restrictions.
“They will regularly get rid of it. And once they know they can, they will constantly do it, ”Brewer said Tuesday.
As states enacted tougher laws and the number of clinics declined, thousands of women crossed state borders for abortion. A 2019 analysis by The Associated Press found that at least 276,000 women terminated their pregnancies outside their home state between 2012 and 2017. In pockets of the Midwest, South, and West Mountain, the number of women terminating pregnancies in another state increased dramatically, with the lack of clinics meant that the nearest provider was in another state or when less restrictive policies made abortions easier and faster.
With no Mississippi doctors willing to perform abortions, five out-of-state doctors are rotating through Jackson. Some patients travel for hours from small towns in one of the country’s poorest states – first for counseling, then 24 hours later for abortion.
A woman who ended two pregnancies at the clinic said she never regretted the decisions for a single moment. At the time, she was in her thirties and doing what was best for herself and her young child, she said.
At the clinic, she and the other women conversed while waiting. She recalled their stories: one had been raped by her own father; another had been raped by her boss; another was in medical school.
“I want women to understand that everything is fine and that it’s not something you have to feel guilty about,” she said. She spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because she is in a legal dispute with the father of her child and believes that speaking publicly about her abortions could hurt her in this case.
Outside the clinic, anti-abortion protesters clash with volunteer escorts. Protesters often try to prevent cars from entering the clinic’s parking lot. Some people pray, sing or hold posters with graphic photos of aborted fetuses. Others climb ladders to look over a fence surrounding the clinic, shouting at the volunteer escorts who call themselves “advocates of the pink house” and the patients they accompany inside.
Doug Lane, president of Pastors for Life, is a frequent presence outside the pink building where he tries to persuade women and girls to give up abortion. He said he and other protesters were exercising their right to free speech and sometimes changing the minds of women, directing them to a nearby crisis pregnancy center that offers ultrasounds and clothing for women. babies.
“We have a right to be heard, even by people who disagree with us and oppose us,” Lane said.
The protests outside the clinic became a flashpoint in his Jackson neighborhood.
Two restaurants are located directly in front of the building. Some days the protesters are silent or quietly praying for themselves. Other times, they use megaphone which can be heard inside restaurants, even with the doors closed. Cars are driven by honking in support or scolding.
Recently, families at one of the restaurants ate outside at a cluster of tables within 6 meters of two children sitting silently holding signs saying, “We are ambassadors of Jesus Christ.” A woman was walking back and forth, praying under her breath and holding a sign: “Pray to end abortion.”
In 2019, Jackson City Council passed an ordinance to limit noise outside medical facilities. Some council members said their action was in response to complaints about activities outside the abortion clinic, but the city backed down and repealed the order a year later after a lawsuit challenged the rule.
Nathan Glenn is co-owner of the two restaurants across from the clinic. He said his family was in business about 20 years ago and when the restaurants opened he didn’t know they were near an abortion clinic. He said he respected people’s right to protest, but that they were blocking the entrance to restaurants and yelling at diners.
The director of the Brewer Clinic said all the restrictions and protests weren’t going to stop abortions in Mississippi – they only served to make things more dangerous. She said people who oppose abortion claim to care about women and their future children, but if they really care, they would spend more time caring for the children once they got there. were born paying for things like better health care or child care.
“This is not going to stop abortions in Mississippi. Abortions were in progress in Mississippi before Roe v. Wade, ”Brewer said. “So I think they don’t think about it or really don’t care.”
AP writers Leah Willingham in Jackson and Christina A. Cassidy in Atlanta contributed to this story.
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