August 19, 2013 7:46:57 AM
JACKSON -- More than 100 people rallied outside Mississippi's only abortion clinic after a trial date was set in its fight against a state law.
People from across Mississippi and as far as Houston, Texas, and Louisville, Ky., gathered Saturday outside the bright pink Jackson Women's Health Organization, The Clarion-Ledger reported.
Mississippi is among five states with one abortion provider, said Sunsara Taylor of StopPatriarchy.org, organizer of a 15-state, one-month "Abortion Rights Freedom Ride."
"Abortion rights across the country are in a state of emergency. ... We've been going to the states with only one clinic left in them, states where restrictions have been passed, states where abortion providers have been murdered," she told WLBT-TV .
Mississippi's law requires every doctor at an abortion clinic to have privileges to admit patients to a local hospital.
The clinic's owner, Diane Derzis, has said that hospitals rejected requests from doctors at her clinic. The OB-GYNs working there don't live in Mississippi. Hospitals often won't give privileges to out-of-state physicians.
On Friday, a federal judge scheduled trial next March. U.S. District Judge Daniel P. Jordan allowed the new law to take effect but blocked the state from imposing penalties while the clinic seeks admitting privileges.
"I already hear those stories of women trying to abort on their own and that's where we're at in Mississippi. Where women already can't access a clinic and with no clinic it'll only get worse," said Laurie Roberts, one of the protesters.
Laurie Bertram Roberts, president of Mississippi Now, said, "If we don't do what we're supposed to do to protect the rights of women and young women in this country and in this state, people will die, women will die and we will lose a constitutional right. In Mississippi, guns are more protected than your uterus."
A few anti-abortion activists, including frequent protester Roy McMillan, stood quietly across the street during the early part of the rally. After McMillan left, a protester with a sign that read "Killing babies today" walked around, leaving after Jackson police were called as a precaution.
Alliance for Justice, a Washington-based group, took video for a planned film, spokesman Kevin Fry said.
"The purpose of the film is to raise awareness and promote a model for activism," he said. "What's happening in Mississippi is happening in other states across the country."
Statements read at the rally, included one from actor Mark Ruffalo, who wrote that his mother had an illegal abortion when she was young.
"I don't want to turn back the hands of time to when women shuttled across state lines in the thick of the night to resolve an unwanted pregnancy, in a cheap hotel room just south of the state line," he wrote.