Mississippi’s last abortion clinic, Jackson Women’s Health, will move to N.M. if Roe is overturned

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Mississippi’s last abortion clinic, the one at the center of the Supreme Court case that could strike down Roe v. Wadeis prepared to move to New Mexico if the landmark 1973 ruling is overturned this summer, according to the clinic’s director.

Shortly after a published draft of a Supreme Court opinion that would overturn the landmark abortion ruling reverberated across the country, Shannon Brewer, the director of the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, told NBC News that Mississippi’s only clinic would move to New Mexico if it is forced to close or reduce its services.

The clinic, known as “Pink House,” is named in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization a challenge to Mississippi’s law banning most abortions after 15 weeks. The draft opinion of the case, first reported by Politico, said that Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., along with Justice Clarence Thomas and all of three of President Donald Trump’s nominees to the court — Justices Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — had already decided to overturn the precedent set in roe† The draft opinion was confirmed as legitimate by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who clarified that the document “does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case.”

But the report, and the disruption it has caused in the nation’s political landscape, has led Jackson Women’s Health to potentially look west for its future.

“Our plans are to open a facility in New Mexico,” Brewer said to NBC. “We’ve been calling it the Pink House West just to let people know we’re still here for them, and we’re still going to fight for women regardless.”

Brewer did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Wednesday.

As protesters from Washington to Los Angeles have demonstrated in response to federal abortion rights being possibly overturned, abortion clinics in Republican-led states are scrambling to prepare for an imminent future in which the procedure would become illegal. Some providers have acknowledged they “don’t have a plan” if abortion is illegal in many states in a matter of weeks.

Draft opinion jolts abortion clinics, lawmakers to prepare for end of Roe

Trigger bans are already in place in 13 states, which would almost immediately outlaw all abortions within their borders if roe is overturned. Among those states is Texas, which bans the procedure as early as six weeks into pregnancy. More than a dozen more GOP-led states are aimed to severely restrict the procedure. One particularly significant version of this law passed the legislature in Oklahoma, where a full abortion ban will still take effect, even if roe is not completely overturned.

Mississippi’s history as one of the most difficult places to obtain an abortion is well documented. Restrictions passed by the state have over time have dwindled the number of available Mississippi providers down to just Jackson Women’s Health. Women’s health advocates have argued the laws in Mississippi have disproportionately affected poor women of color. Nearly three-quarters of the women getting abortions in Mississippi are Black, according to federal data released in November 2020. About 38 percent of Mississippi’s population is Black.

How Mississippi ended up with one abortion clinic and why it matters

Jackson Women’s Health’s potential move to New Mexico shows the lengths to which Democratic-led states have gone in anticipation of roe possibly being struck down.

Sixteen states and the District have laws that protect the right to an abortion, either before a fetus’s viability or throughout a pregnancy, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit research center based in New York and Washington that supports abortion rights.

Even if roe is struck down, abortion will remain legal in New Mexico. Last year, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) signed into law a bill that struck down the state’s abortion law from 1969, which banned the procedure except in the cases of rape, incest or if it was needed to save a woman’s life.

In response to the Supreme Court draft opinion, Lujan Grisham said in a statement that the news was “catastrophic and will have consequences that will negatively impact generations,” noting the prospect was why she signed the measure striking down the old abortion law.

“The threat of the Supreme Court’s repeal of Roe v. Wade is precisely why we repealed New Mexico’s criminal abortion ban, ensuring that New Mexico women have access to safe, high-quality, and legal reproductive care regardless of the Court’s devastating decision,” the governor said Tuesday. “It’s clear today that the action we’ve taken to protect and expand abortion rights in New Mexico is more important than ever. New Mexico will continue to be a state that protects and preserves the rights of women and their families to make their own decisions about health care.”

Brewer told NBC that the clinic would move forward, even if its days in Mississippi could be coming to an end. She said the staff at Jackson Women’s Health are continuing to offer support and services to patients, many of whom are already parents and living in poverty.

“It’s going to affect women who need it the most,” she said to the outlet. “It’s not going to affect women who have the means financially to be able to get an abortion anywhere. They will still have access some type of way. That’s what devastates me. The ones who need it the most are the ones who will be affected.”

Ariana Eunjung Cha, Caroline Kitchener, Rachel Roubein and Emily Wax-Thibodeaux contributed to this report.

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