Mississippi’s trigger law goes into effect, banning most abortions

JACKSON, Miss. — The post-Roe era has arrived in Mississippi. Mississippi’s trigger law, the state’s near-total ban on abortion, went into effect Thursday.

Mississippi legislators passed the law in 2007 before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a case that had legalized abortion nationwide.

It only allows for an abortion if the mother’s life is in danger or the pregnancy is caused by rape that is reported to law enforcement.

Thursday afternoon the Jackson Women’s Health Organization asked the state Supreme Court to step in.

The chancery court ruling from earlier this week has been appealed to the state Supreme Court.

READ MORE: Lone Mississippi abortion clinic seeks legal path to reopen

A chancery court judge in Jackson, Miss., ruled she would not issue an injunction to block the state’s abortion ban.

MORE: MS judge refuses to stop law that would block abortion ban

The judge in the case heard from attorneys representing the state and attorneys representing the state’s only abortion clinic.

An attorney for the Jackson Women’s Health Organization argued that the state has no business deciding whether a woman should end a pregnancy.

The chancery judge wrote in part that the ruling was based in part on her opinion that the state Supreme Court would have to step in and reject the clinic’s argument that a woman’s right to an abortion is protected under the state’s right to privacy standards.

The clinic closed at the end of the business on Wednesday.

MORE: Scramble as last Mississippi abortion clinic shuts its doors

Outside the clinic, clashes intensified between anti-abortion protesters and volunteers escorting patients into the clinic, best known as the Pink House.

Some staffers were expected to be in the Pink House on Thursday for paperwork ahead of its closure, but no procedures.

FOX13 traveled to Jackson Thursday, where the clinic was quieter than usual. No signs of pro and anti-abortion protestors who had become the norm outside the Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Usually, when we showed up, there were protestors from both sides, but Thursday, we were told some showed up early and went home.

When we tried to ask questions at the clinic, we were told to leave the property.

Signs on the clinic walls thanked people who had supported the clinic over the years. A clinic worker who didn’t want to go on camera said it was over and it was time to go home.

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the clinic’s challenge to a state law limiting abortion. It overturned the nearly half-century-old precedent of Roe v. Wade, which guaranteed a woman the right to an abortion.

Mississippi had been ready to move for years. In 2007, legislators passed a law that would ban almost all abortions ten days after Roe was overturned.

A judge refused to grant Jackson Women’s Health Organization an injunction to stop that law this week. That allowed the law to go into effect Thursday.

Violating it comes with up to a 10-year prison sentence and a hundred thousand dollar fine.

In a statement, the group Pro-Life Mississippi said in part, “This is what the people of Mississippi want – to protect innocent life in the womb and to help families make a better choice than abortion. We are grateful to God for this positive decision in defense of the sanctity of life in our state.”

So what’s next for Jackson Women’s Health?

The owner said she would open a new clinic in New Mexico where abortion remains legal. She said there is also funding to help Mississippi women get there.

Earlier this week, protestors made their voices heard before the clinic had to shut its doors.

“This is a devastating time for us. It’s going to greatly harm people. It has already harmed people.,” protestor Cabbage Staffe said.

The state’s new law bans abortion with the exception of when the mother’s life is in jeopardy or when there is a rape reported to law enforcement.

While no one with the clinic spoke Thursday, owner Diane Derzis said when the ruling came down that she was opening another Pink House in New Mexico and would look for funding to help Mississippi women travel there for abortions.

Mississippi’s Attorney General Lynn Fitch shared a statement on Twitter Thursday afternoon: