Analysis

VICTORY: Mississippi ordinance banning pro-life speech is lifted

jackson mississippi

An ordinance restricting noise around the vivid pink abortion facility in Jackson, Mississippi, has been overturned after just one year. The ordinance had also put into place a “buffer zone,” within which protesting was prohibited.

This week, the Jackson City Council voted unanimously in favor of the Mississippi Justice Institute, which had filed a lawsuit seeking to have the ordinance overturned. “We are pleased that the city of Jackson has decided to do the right thing and end this unconstitutional restriction on free expression,” said Aaron Rice, the director of the Institute, in a press release. “This is a major victory for free speech for Jackson and the state of Mississippi.”

The Institute allegedly sued on behalf of Sidewalk Advocates for Life almost immediately after the ordinance was put into place in October 2019.

According to WLBT, the ordinance banned people from gathering or meeting outside the entrances of ‘health care facilities’ and banned any amplified noise. Anyone accused of violating the ordinance faced up to 90 days in jail, and a $1,000 fine. While the ordinance does nt specifically mention abortion facilities, it was largely put into place to benefit Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the state’s only abortion business.

READ: Diane Derzis, owner of Mississippi’s last abortion clinic: God wants me to provide abortions

Andy Taggart, a lawyer who worked pro-bono on the case, said the decision to overturn the ordinance is a victory for free speech. “The city of Jackson has rescinded an ordinance that should have never been the law to begin with, and at least for now, things are set right,” he told WLBT.

Diane Derzis, who owns the facility, complained to the Associated Press about the decision. “The Jackson police pretty much ignored the ordinance,” she said. “We’re not willing to do the right thing. We’re not willing to do it for the women who walk in that door or the women who work in the clinic or the people who walk on the street or the businesses that are nearby.”

Though Derzis speaks of doing the “right thing” for women, her own record leaves much to be desired in the way of helping them. Abortion advocates have praised her for painting the facility in garish, bright colors, which Derzis says gives it a “warm, happy feeling,” but her history of putting women at risk is often overlooked. A previous facility owned by Derzis was forcibly closed, and was only allowed to reopen if Derzis was not involved. When the state of Alabama investigated the facility after three women were seriously injured on the same day, inspectors found 76 pages worth of health code violations. The abortionist responsible for botching three abortions in one day is allegedly still committing abortions for Derzis at Jackson Women’s Health.

With this ordinance now overturned, pro-life activists will now hopefully be able to offer women options other than abortion.

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