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Peter Paton

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Abortion Battle Lines Drawn In Mississippi
by Peter Paton   
Rated "PG" by the Author.
Last edited: Sunday, March 12, 2006
Posted: Sunday, March 12, 2006

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This is a follow up on my previous article on Abortion, which

is currently a major issue in American politics

Peter Paton.

Abortion battle lines drawn in Mississippi

By Daniela Relph
BBC News, Jackson, Mississippi

Politicians in the US state of Mississippi are pushing forward with plans to ban abortion. The anti-abortion movement says it feels the climate is right for change. In Mississippi 4000 abortions are performed every year in the state's one remaining clinic.

Mississippi lawmakers hope their legislation could reach the US Supreme Court
The Jackson Women's Health Organisation is an anonymous enough building in the heart of strip mall America. Anonymous save for the permanent protest outside.

Arriving here is an intimidating, even shocking, experience. Anti-abortion campaigners hold up enormous and gruesome pictures of aborted foetuses. They stop every car going into the car park and try to persuade those inside to wind down their windows and take their literature.

The women going into this clinic for an abortion are screamed at. One protester, a man, yells "Don't go to those demons, don't let them take your money, don't let them kill your baby". When I ask him why he is being so aggressive, he tells me it's because America needs to know the truth: "Abortion is murder," he says.


Susan Seale is a regular outside the clinic. She's been campaigning against terminations for 23 years. Her conversation is peppered with unrepeatable and vivid descriptions of what happens during a termination. "It's the only way to make people understand," she says.

Roe is the worst kind of law - I believe we can do better

Alan Nunnelee, Mississippi state senator

Here, it seems, the anti-abortion lobby feels increasingly energised.

Staff and patients inside see it differently. They say they feel under siege. The clinics windows are tinted, the blinds firmly shut and a security guard hovers at the door. Despite the harrowing nature of their arrival, the waiting room is full of young women.

Most appear to be under 25, virtually all are African American, and all sit in silence and stare at the TV in the corner of the room.

This is now the only clinic left in Mississippi where a woman can get an abortion. It costs up to $400, but staff fear the service they offer will soon be a thing of the past.

Constitutional rights

Betty Thompson, the clinic's former director, has become its chief campaigner, fighting to keep it open. "This is a vital facility - to close it would remove an important part of women's healthcare - the women of this state need it," she says.

Pro-choice and anti-abortion campaigners at a demonstration in South Dakota where most abortions have been banned
Alongside her sits Dr Joseph Booker, who performs many of the abortions here. He explains that he now takes extra measures to protect his own security. But he won't tell me what measures. "I am concerned about my own safety but I won't let it cripple my life. To close this clinic and ban abortion would in my view violate all women's constitutional rights."

Just a few miles down the road, but a world away from the clinic, is the grandeur of the State Capitol Building. Today members of the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra are performing. Music echoes across the marble filled chamber. It is here that the real battle lines over abortion in Mississippi are being drawn.

Lawmakers have already drafted a bill to ban abortion, except in cases of rape, incest, and risk to the mother's life. I am here to see Alan Nunnelee, the larger-than-life figure spearheading the drive to ban abortion in Mississippi.

Mr Nunnelee is a state senator and he is in no hurry. He wants to get this legislation right. Why? Because the senator believes, if good enough, it could reach the US Supreme Court. He hopes this legislation will persuade the Court to overturn Roe v Wade - the nationwide law that enshrines a woman's right to an abortion.

New legislation

"Roe is the worst kind of law," he says. "I believe we can do better". He has enormous support, the momentum, it seems, is with him.

In conjunction with the new bill the anti-abortion movement now has 25 clinics up and running across the Mississippi offering counselling to women who are considering an abortion. They are given guidance on the options available to them - adoption, parenting or termination.

But the director of one clinic, Barbara Beevors, says that abortion remains for her an unacceptable choice. "If that's what a women chooses, I see it as a personal failure. I feel I have failed her, and most importantly I have failed her child," she says.

In Mississippi abortion is an increasingly hostile debate. Over the next few weeks the wording and the timing of the bill will be discussed by politicians and lawmakers. They insist they are not jumping on any bandwagon. They say they see this as a chance to improve the rights of women and children by making this state abortion free. America looks on and waits.




US state tightens abortion laws
07 Mar 06 |  Americas

US state takes aim at abortions
23 Feb 06 |  Americas

Supreme Court to rule on abortion
21 Feb 06 |  Americas


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Web Site: Abortion Battle Lines Drawn In Mississippi

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Reviewed by Michelle Kidwell Power In The Pen
Thank you so much for this article, I am glad that some states are begining to open their eyes, the fact that the woman who first fought for Roe VS Wade, is now against abortion should give some the clue, thank you for this
In Christs Love
Reviewed by Jennifer Butler
Good for Mississippi. A baby is such a wonderful blessing, but the young mother who is deceived into letting them kill her developing child does not learn this unless she is fortunate enough to become a mother. Those are are her real choices --- love or loss.
Reviewed by Edward Saint-Ivan
Our "enlightened" Vice President says that not only should abortion be banned but that there should be no exceptions. I absolutly support first trimester abortions and maybe even second trimester ones.
I can understand that killing a fully formed fetus is murder but to call each and every cell a life is patently insane.
Reviewed by Sandy Knauer
Don't you just love 'state's rights' shouted from people who trample individual rights? Why anyone feels the need to force their religious beliefs on any other person is beyond me. Insecurity, I guess.
Reviewed by Birgit and Roger Pratcher
A great update on one of the biggest issues at this time,
Birgit and Roger
Reviewed by Leland Waldrip
The forced continuance of unwanted early term pregnancies is not critical or necessary to a state's welfare, as is quite readily obvious from any recent census. To the contrary, the result of such action places undue economic stress on its treasury (with added welfare, educational and crime costs) and undue emotional stress on those of its citizens most directly affected by it. To ban virtually all early term abortions would be a step toward fiscal profligacy in the interests of the busy-bodiness of church-state entanglements.
Reviewed by Jerry Bolton (Reader)
State rights! All the way.
Reviewed by George Carroll
This is a States right issue and many States have adopted an anti-abortion law. I hope and pray Mississippi will join them but being a Democratic state I don't know if they have enough votes in their Senate and House to pass such a much needed law. Even if Roe v Wade were overturned, which it will be one day, the Sates have the final say if they want abortion or not.
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