Last month, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed a law requiring doctors at abortion clinics to have admitting privileges in a local hospital. Mississippi has one clinic left, where, because of the state's anti-abortion climate, they commute to work from Alabama. It's no secret that Mississippi Republicans, in particular, are delighted by the prospect that they might put the state's one and only clinic out of business.
Mississippi State Representative Bubba Carpenter, speaking to the Alcorn County GOP on Thursday, said as much:
"We have literally stopped abortion in the state of Mississippi. Three blocks from the Capitol sits the only abortion clinic in the state of Mississippi. A bill was drafted. It said, if you would perform an abortion in the state of Mississippi, you must be a certified OB/GYN and you must have admitting privileges to a hospital. Anybody here in the medical field knows how hard it is to get admitting privileges to a hospital...
"It's going to be challenged, of course, in the Supreme Court and all -- but literally, we stopped abortion in the state of Mississippi, legally, without having to-- Roe vs. Wade. So we've done that. I was proud of it. The governor signed it into law. And of course, there you have the other side. They're like, 'Well, the poor pitiful women that can't afford to go out of state are just going to start doing them at home with a coat hanger.' That's what we've heard over and over and over.
"But hey, you have to have moral values. You have to start somewhere, and that’s what we've decided to do. This became law and the governor signed it, and I think for one time, we were first in the nation in the state of Mississippi."
I got a chance to ask Representative Carpenter about the coat hanger part today. "That was what a lot of our critics on the House floor said during the debate," he told me. "That was just some language that some of the African-Americans used." A few white Democrats also spoke out about the old "home remedies," he remembered, but in the end the measure passed with support from several Democrats.
The owner of the state's lone clinic says she'll sue to block the law, which takes effect July 1, if her doctors can't get admitting privileges. Tonight on the show, yet more anti-abortion legislation in the states.
UPDATE, Tuesday 1:15 PM: When I first transcribed the tape, I understood Representative Carpenter to say, "They're like, 'Well, the poor pitiful women that can't afford to go out of state are just going to start doing them at home with a coat hanger. That's what we've learned over and over and over.' " Two people I played the tape for understood him to say, "That's what we've heard and over and over and over." I'd be interested in what anyone else's interpretation.