Mississippi abortion clinic to stay open

Protesters stand outside Jackson Women's Health Organization in Jackson, Mississippi 27 June 2012 Anti-abortion protesters gather outside Jackson Women's Health Organization

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A Mississippi judge has kept in place a temporary block on a law that could see the state's only abortion clinic close its doors.

US District Judge Daniel Jordan did not immediately say how long the restraining order would last.

Jackson Women's Health Organization sought a renewal of the temporary stay while it goes forward with a lawsuit.

State lawyers argue that the clinic's doctors should have certification to admit patients to a local hospital.

They argue the so-called admitting privileges requirement is designed for patient safety.

But the clinic says it has been unable to obtain the certification for two doctors , and that the privileges give hospitals a veto over abortion.

Clinic lawyers argue that the measure amounts to a block on women's access to a constitutionally protected medical procedure.

If the Jackson clinic is closed, the closest abortion providers are about 200 miles (321 km) away, in several different states.

Judge Jordan issued a temporary restraining order on 1 July, the day the measure was to take effect.

In the hearing on Wednesday, he could have either: lifted the restraining order, letting the law take effect; continued the temporary ban; or ordered a more permanent injunction allowing both sides to prepare for a trial.

In 1973, a Supreme Court ruling established the right to abortion in the US.

The court upheld Roe v Wade almost 20 years but allowed states to regulate abortion procedures before foetuses are viable without placing undue burdens on women seeking abortions.

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