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Fifth Circuit Ruling Keeps Last Abortion Clinic in Mississippi Open

As reported in The New York Times and other media outlets, on July 29, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued a landmark decision and affirmed a preliminary injunction issued by the District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi enjoining a Mississippi requirement that all doctors who are associated with an abortion facility in Mississippi to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. Enforcement of the law would have resulted in the closure of Mississippi's only licensed abortion clinic, the Jackson Women's Health Organization (JHWO), a reproductive health facility in Jackson.

Paul, Weiss and the Center for Reproductive Rights had challenged the law on behalf of JWHO and one of its doctors and obtained a preliminary injunction last year from the District Court after the clinic's doctors had applied for admitting privileges but none of the local hospitals would even consider their applications on the merits. Despite its refusal to enjoin a similar Texas admitting privileges law earlier this year, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the District Court's decision and enjoined the Mississippi admitting privileges law as applied to JWHO. The court held that "Mississippi may not shift its obligation to respect the established constitutional rights of its citizens to another state. Such a proposal would not only place an undue burden on the exercise of the constitutional right [to have an abortion], but would also disregard a state's obligation under the principle of federalism - applicable to all fifty states - to accept the burden of the non-delegable duty of protecting the established federal constitutional rights of its own citizens."

The Paul, Weiss team included litigation partner Allan Arffa and counsel Aaron Delaney.

July 29, 2014

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