‘Abortion Queen’ in Last-Ditch Battle to Save Mississippi Clinic - Bloomberg
Diane Derzis carries a Taser, a Smith and Wesson and a nickname: “abortion queen.”
“It doesn’t in any way injure my self-confidence,” said Derzis, who owns Mississippi’s last abortion clinic and three others in the U.S. South. “I kind of like being the queen.”
Her dominion, though, is shrinking. Derzis’s Birmingham clinic was shut for what Alabama health officials called “a history of deficiencies” in what she said was a witch hunt. Now, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization may close, thanks to a law Mississippi’s Republican-led Legislature passed requiring that abortion doctors have admitting privileges at a local hospital.
Derzis, 58, and her lawyers are trying to prevent the state from becoming the first with no abortion clinic, and argued in U.S. District Court yesterday that the requirement is unconstitutional because it will effectively ban the procedure. Judge Daniel P. Jordan III ruled that the law will remain blocked as he considers new material filed by the state.
Derzis, seen as a hero by allies and an enabler of murder by the anti-abortion movement, bought the Jackson clinic two years ago. She had become known in the region after Eric Robert Rudolph bombed her New Woman All Women Health Care Clinic in Birmingham in 1998, punctuating years of attacks on clinics. The blast killed an off-duty police officer and maimed a nurse.
Politicians now present the greatest threat to Derzis’s professional survival. States passed a record 92 abortion restrictions last year, according to the New York-based Guttmacher Institute, which compiles reproductive-health data. Mississippi joined nine other states with laws requiring admitting privileges when Republican Governor Phil Bryant signed the bill in April.