Sadness and defiance as Mississippi’s last abortion clinic shuts its doors

After shutting of ‘Pink House’ nearest clinic will be 1,000 miles away in New Mexico

The struggle to save Mississippi's last abortion clinic

Medical staff and volunteers have welcomed the last patients through the doors at the “Pink House”, as Mississippi’s only abortion clinic closed operations after a long and defiant fight.


With a vow to help as many women asking for help before a state ban on abortions comes into effect on Thursday, staff scrambled and hired additional physicians before the cut-off.

“Today is a hard day for all of us as the last abortion provider in Mississippi,” tweeted the Pink House Fund, a non-profit group that has raised money to support the Jackson’s Women Health Clinic, as the facility is properly known.

“It is our last day fighting against all the odds – of being there when no other providers would or could.”

It added: “We are proud of the work we have done here. Thank U for all your support.”

With the closure of the clinic, which opened in 1996, women not just in Mississippi, but across a large swathe of the south and southeast of the United States, will need to travel hundreds of miles or more, to the nearest facility.

Last week, Diane Derzis, who has owned the Pink House since 2010 and who lives in Alabama, told The Independent she had already bought a clinic in Las Cruces, New Mexico, about 1,000 miles away, but where abortion remains legal.

She said “hundreds of thousands of women” are going to travel long distances or else rely on abortion medication sent through the mail. Many states have said they will also seek to prosecute people sending such medications through the post.

“That’s what the United States of America now looks like for the women that reside in those states,” she said. “That’s what we have come to.”

The clinic, which is independent, has become famous in the battle over abortion rights, something that polls show a vast majority of Americans support.

Unlike most facilities, the volunteers who welcome women at the Pink House also engaged with the opponents of abortion, having decided that too many in the movement had ceded the momentum.

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“By not pushing back, we give up the ground to them and that bullsh**,” said volunteer Derenda Hancock.

“We don’t scream. We’re not in their faces. But we were wrong to give them the sidewalks.”

It has also become a popular location for abortion opponents from outside of Mississippi, to come and protest.
 Laura Duran, 75, is a local and has been protesting outside the Pink House for ten years.

“The main reason is that I believe in ‘life’ and that the baby is live since the conception. We help the babies and the mothers with that they need,” she said last month.

The clinic also became famous because its name was in the legal case, Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organisation. Dobbs refers to Thomas Dobbs, Mississippi’s state health officer, that found its way to the Supreme Court, and which then upheld a Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks and also overturned Roe v Wade.

The 1973 ruling had been used by two generations of women nationally to secure access to safe and legal abortions.

Now, a Mississippi state law from 2007 that does not even contain an exception if a child or woman is raped or is a victim of incest, will come into effect on Thursday. The only technical exception is if a woman’s life is at risk.

Dr Cheryl Hamlin, obstetrician-gynecologist at Mt Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Mass, has spent a few days every month in Jackson performing abortions, for the past five years. No doctor from the state would agree to work there.

When she arrived on Wednesday, for the final day, she was greeted by supporters who cheered her.

One abortion opponent, Doug Lane, yelled: “Repent! Repent!”

As it was, his words were drowned out by abortion rights supporter Beau Black, who repeatedly screamed: “Hypocrites and Pharisees! Hypocrites and Pharisees!”

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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