Over the last weekend in January 2013, Jackson Women’s Health Services applied a coat of bright-pink paint to its building at the corner of State Street and Fondren Avenue in Jackson, Mississippi. While the name of the paintcolor hasn’t been publicized, it might aptly be nicknamed “Pink with a Purpose,” or “In Your Face Pink,” because Jackson Women’s Health Organization chose the color to make a statement.
“It’s a woman’s color,” said clinic Owner Diane Derzis. “It’s says, ‘We’re right here, and we’re not going anywhere.’”
Jackson Women’s Health Services is the last abortion clinic in Mississippi, where the Republican-dominated state legislature and Republican Governor Phil Bryant have made it their avowed goal to make abortion impossible in their state. It’s a familiar scenario: The legislature passes, and the Governor signs, laws that put insurmountable hurdles in front of women’s health clinics that provide abortions. The main problem for Jackson Women’s Health Organization is the requirement that its doctors must have admitting privileges at a local hospital.
The difference between Mississippi’s laws and those in most other states is that, in Mississippi, they’ve put every abortion clinic other than Jackson Women’s Health out of business. Before the onerous restrictions on abortion clinics went into effect, Mississippi had 14 abortion clinics.
Ironically, Mississippi voters appear to have a different view of the kind of severe restrictions on abortion proposed by their legislature. In November 2011, Mississippi voters defeated, by a margin of 52 to 47 percent, a “personhood” amendment to their state constitution. The amendment would have defined “life” as beginning at the moment of fertilization,which would have effectively made all abortions illegal.
According to Clarion-Ledger. com:
Jackson Women’s Health Organization is currently awaiting word from a federal judge on its request for a preliminary injunction to block enforcement of the new state law. It requires all its physicians to have hospital admitting privileges, but the clinic hasn’t been able to obtain them despite a months-long effort.If the judge doesn’t grant the injunction, the state could be forced to close the clinic for non-compliance. Attorneys for the Jackson Women’s Health Organization say closure could come as early as March.
Not surprisingly, the pink paint job has infuriated anti-choice groups. For those who actually support respect for established law and a woman’s right to control her own reproductive system, the clinic’s new pink exterior is a welcome symbol of courage.
Gloria Shur Bilchik is a freelance writer and community volunteer in St. Louis, Missouri. She is the editor of Occasional Planet. She views the preservation of progressive values as vital to making the US a humane, livable place for her children and grandchildren.