Diane Derzis knew this day was coming, but that doesn’t make it any less surreal. “It’s painful,” said Derzis, owner of Jackson Women’s Health — the Mississippi abortion clinic central to the case that Supreme Court conservatives used to overturn 50 years of precedent and abolish America’s constitutional right to abortion.
“I don’t think any of us can imagine how bad it will be,” said Derzis Vanity Fair on the phone just hours after the Supreme Court issued its opinion on: Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health.
Samuel Alito and the conservative supermajority of the court ruled that the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision was “deeply wrong” and overturned it, ending federal reproductive health protections and opening the door to draconian restrictions in nearly half the country — including Mississippi, one of several states with “trigger laws” that have been passed. designed to take effect after the revolution of roe† The ruling was not surprising to Derzis – even before a draft of Alito’s majority opinion leaked out last month, it was clear that the ruthless anti-abortion movement had been encouraged by Donald Trump and the right-hand court he ushered in. Like other abortion providers, she says she is preparing for it. For example, she plans to open a new clinic in New Mexico, where abortion will remain legal, to meet the needs of people in nearby states where it is banned.
‘We build clinics,’ says Derzis. “We do abortion. We have been doing that for 46 years and we will absolutely continue to do so.”
But, she says, that becomes more difficult in light of the ruling — especially for people of color and those without the means to travel for care. Derzis, whose first abortion clinic was one of those bombed by anti-abortion activists Eric Rudolph in 1998, also expects the ruling to lead to “terrifying” threats and violence against those who seek and provide reproductive health care.
“This is the beginning,” says Derzis, whose clinic is the only abortion provider in Mississippi. “These judges have set the stage for violence and unrest and they don’t care. It’s a sad day.”
Amid the ramifications of the decision — including presidential convictions Joe Biden and other Democrats and a sharp rebuke to the Supreme Court’s three-member liberal minority – anti-abortion protesters collected outside the clinic of Derzis, applaud the ruling and appear to restrict access in and out of the facility. Governor of Mississippi Tate Reevesmeanwhile, celebrated the decision, saying his state had “led the nation to overcome one of the greatest injustices in our country’s history”.
Leaders in several other states – including New York† Illinoisand California — vowed to protect abortion rights, while Biden vowed in a speech that his administration would do what it could to maintain access to the procedure. But the dobbs The ruling represents a seismic shift in American social policy: Americans, most of whom have never lived in a United States where abortion was not a constitutionally protected right, are entering a stark new reality. “It’s going to be difficult,” Derzis says. “Most of these women, even me during my reproductive years, was always available for abortion. These women don’t know any different.”