Former Mississippi abortion clinic at center of national case has been sold, owner says

Published 8:41 pm Monday, July 18, 2022

The Mississippi abortion clinic at the center of a U.S. Supreme Court case that overturned Roe v. Wade has been sold and will not reopen even if it’s allowed to do so by a state court, its owner told The Associated Press on Monday.

Diane Derzis said the furniture and equipment from Jackson Women’s Health Organization have been moved to a new abortion clinic she will open soon in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The Jackson clinic is best known as the Pink House because of its bright paint job, and it was Mississippi’s last abortion clinic.

Derzis said people were calling her to ask about buying the building within minutes after the Supreme Court released its June 24 ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade and took away women’s constitutional protection for abortion nationwide.

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She said she does not think the building will be used as a medical facility.

“I didn’t ask because I really didn’t care,” Derzis said Monday. “It’s a great building.”

The building is in Jackson’s Fondren neighborhood, home to an eclectic mix of restaurants, retail shops and entertainment venues.

The Pink House stopped offering medication and surgical abortions July 6, the day before Mississippi enacted a law that bans most abortions. Mississippi was one of several states with a trigger law contingent on the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.

The Mississippi trigger law, passed in 2007, says abortion is legal only if the pregnant woman’s life is in danger or if a pregnancy is caused by a rape reported to law enforcement. It does not have an exception for pregnancies caused by incest.

The Pink House is still engaged in a legal battle in Mississippi. On July 5, a state court judge rejected a request to block the trigger law from taking effect. The clinic appealed her ruling to the state Supreme Court.

Attorneys for the clinic cited a 1998 Mississippi Supreme Court ruling that said the state constitution invokes a right to privacy that “includes an implied right to choose whether or not to have an abortion.”

The state attorney general’s office argued that the 1998 ruling was rooted in U.S. Supreme Court decisions in 1973 and 1992 that established or protected abortion rights but were overturned on June 24. But Rob McDuff, a Mississippi Center for Justice attorney representing the clinic, argued that state justices never said their ruling was made because of the federal Constitution.

The state Supreme Court has set a July 25 deadline for state attorneys to respond to the clinic’s appeal.