Jackson Women’s Health Organisation v. Brian W. Amy (State Health Officer, Mississippi)

No CivA 3:04CV495LN, 2005 WL 1412125 (SDMiss 2005)
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The plaintiff- Jackson Women’s Health Organisation filed a motion challenging a provision in the Mississippi Code stating, “abortion procedures after the first-trimester shall be performed only at an ambulatory surgical facility or hospitals licensed to perform that service, and for related purposes. The plaintiff alleged that this provision had effectively banned it from performing abortions after the first trimester and that too for reasons other than safety or health concerns. The plaintiff further stated that this provision placed an undue burden on women’s ability to choose to undergo abortion in the second trimester. No abortion service provider in the state was licensed as a surgical facility as required by the law and therefore abortion services in the second trimester were effectively barred. This, the plaintiff contended affects the constitutional right of women in the state.

The plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment was granted. The Court reiterated its opinion in the preliminary injunction hearing and stated that the provisions did nothing to further the cause of women’s health and safety. The Court also stated that health regulations, which have nothing to do with maternal health or are not in consonance with medical practice will not stand constitutional scrutiny.

Following an evidentiary hearing on a motion by JWHO for preliminary injunction, this court entered a memorandum opinion and order on July 22, 2004 concluding that injunctive relief was indeed in order. The court first concluded that the State’s “effective decision to ban early second-trimester abortions by this plaintiff,” by refusing it licensure as an ambulatory surgical facility “without reference to whether it meets the relevant health and safety criteria,” did nothing to further the State’s professed desire to protect the health and safety of women who choose abortion. 1 See Jackson Women’s Health Organization v. Amy, 330 F. Supp. 2d 820, 824-25 & n.3 (S.D. Miss. 2004) (JWHO) (citing, among other cases, Greenville Women's Clinic v. Bryant, 222 F.3d 157, 198 (2000) (Hamilton, J., dissenting) (citing Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833, 878, 112 S. Ct. 2791 (1992), and Akron v. Akron Ctr. for Reproductive Health, 462 U.S. 416, 434-39, 103 S. Ct. 2481, 76 L. Ed. 2d 687 (1983)), where the court observed that “‘health regulations which are unnecessary, i.e., not reasonably related to maternal health or which depart from accepted medical practice, cannot withstand constitutional scrutiny and must be invalidated.’”). This court further concluded that plaintiff had in any event shown that the amendment had the effect of unduly burdening a woman’s right to choose an abortion, and was thus constitutionally infirm, for, “irrespective of the State’s purpose, the effect of the amendment at issue is to make abortions following the first trimester unavailable to women in this State.” (Page 2-3)