To follow up the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood has focused on reproductive rights for women in the areas of sex education, birth control, and abortion access.
Since 1973, Roe v. Wade, which established a woman’s right to an abortion, has been at the center of a legal battle that has raged on for years. At issue is an anti-abortion law passed in Mississippi in 2011, which now faces the Supreme Court. Known as H.B. 1523, it limits abortions in the state.
The law restricts most abortions, such as late-term procedures that occur after 15 weeks of pregnancy, to facilities that are licensed as ambulatory surgical centers. These facilities are licensed to provide gynecological services, not abortions. They must first meet health and safety requirements. There are currently three of these facilities in Mississippi.
Health and safety requirements
The state law mandates that each doctor who performs an abortion at a clinic must be board certified in obstetrics and gynecology. Technically, a physician must be board certified in obstetrics and gynecology for one year before performing an abortion, but neither of the doctors at the two clinics has such a certification. Neither is board certified in family medicine, which is the major step required for it to be a gynecologist’s role.
Planned Parenthood seeks clarification on H.B. 1523’s requirements regarding the doctor-patient relationship and specifically how such requirements apply to the relationship between a physician and a patient.
The law’s requirement that all Mississippi clinics take voluntary pay raises more questions. Many healthcare facilities don’t charge a facility fee, but it’s possible some might be asked to participate. Additionally, some states collect facility fees from abortions, and H.B. 1523 does not require those fees.
Liability for damages
Mississippi’s law holds that an abortion provider must be a member of a healthcare facility to become liable for damages. H.B. 1523 seeks to bring all health care facilities into the fold. The law defines a “federally qualified health center,” as defined by Congress, as an “abortion clinic”, though it allows facilities that provide other health services to consider themselves “federally qualified health centers” in the same manner.
Any qualified health center must provide family planning, gynecological, or obstetric services to women. They also must provide services similar to those at a hospital, in addition to abortion. If H.B. 1523 becomes law, facilities would become liable for a woman’s injuries caused by a miscarriage or rape after 15 weeks of pregnancy.