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Mississippi Bill Threatens to Close the State’s Only Abortion Clinic

(JACKSON, Miss.) -- Mississippi lawmakers are bringing stricter laws to abortion providers. State legislators passed a measure Wednesday that would require doctors working at abortion clinics to be certified obstetrician-gynecologists, and to have admitting privileges at a local hospital.

The catch?  Mississippi has just one abortion clinic, and only one doctor there has admitting privileges. That means Mississippi's only abortion clinic, the Jackson Women's Health Organization, could be forced to close, ending abortion in Mississippi and sending any women seeking abortions out of state for the procedure.

"If this passage of legislation causes fewer abortions, then it is a positive result," said State Rep. Sam Mims, R-McComb.

Mims, who authored the bill, said the clinic's closure is not the only option going forward.  Keeping the clinic open would just mean the other doctors would have to apply for admitting privileges.

"It does take around 60-90 days to apply for privileges and for that facility to grant you privileges, and so there -- the law is not stopping them from applying, its the receiving privileges," Mims said. "So it's just a matter of applying and having the hospital approve it."

But Diane Derzis, owner of the Jackson Women's Health Organization, told Politico she believes the law's passage was aimed directly at her clinic's closing. Derzis plans to fight to keep the clinic running, and will go as far as to sue the state of Mississippi if the clinic's other two physicians are not able to acquire admitting privileges.

"If you mandate something that can't be accomplished, I don't believe that's constitutional," she told Politico.

The bill was sent to Gov. Phil Bryant's desk Thursday, where it awaits his approval.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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