Mississippi law may shut sole abortion clinic

STARKVILLE, Mississippi Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:08pm EDT

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STARKVILLE, Mississippi (Reuters) - Mississippi's only abortion clinic could be forced out of business under legislation signed into law on Monday by the state governor.

The new law, which takes effect July 1, requires all physicians associated with abortion-providing facilities to be board-certified or eligible for that certification in obstetrics and gynecology, and to have staff with admitting privileges at a local hospital.

"I believe that all human life is precious, and as governor, I will work to ensure that the lives of the born and unborn are protected in Mississippi," Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant said in a statement.

Diane Derzis, the owner of Jackson Women's Health Organization, the state's only abortion-providing clinic, has said the law could shut down her business.

Just one of the three physicians who provide abortions at her clinic has admitting privileges, which allow doctors to refer patients to a specific hospital if further treatment is needed.

Derzis said area hospitals are reluctant to grant admitting privileges to physicians who perform abortions.

Derzis owns clinics that provide abortions in three other states and has said previously that she would fight the law in court. She could not be reached for comment on Monday.

Mississippi already has some of the strictest abortion laws in the United States, and anti-abortion groups have historically praised the state for those laws.

However in November, state voters rejected a constitutional "personhood" amendment that would have defined life at the moment eggs are fertilized.

So-called personhood measures also died earlier this year in the Mississippi legislature, though proponents say they will continue advocating for them.

(Editing By Colleen Jenkins and David Brunnstrom)

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