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Antiabortion Efforts Move to the State Level
Such rules are known as TRAP laws, for Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers.
"We've got a glut of bills we fight every year," said Felicia Brown-Williams, a Planned Parenthood staffer in Hattiesburg. "We spend the first two months in sheer and utter panic that one of these bills is going to get past us."
Planned Parenthood, which provides abortions in clinics across the country, does not provide them in Mississippi. The reason, said a spokesman, is "the amount of regulations and the cost." Five other clinics have closed, leaving only the Jackson Women's Health Organization, founded by clinic operator Susan Hill.
"We've got rules like crazy," Hill said.
Herring and her colleagues are pleased but not satisfied.
"Mississippi clearly has done all that we can within our current legal culture to end abortion here," Herring said, "and yet we have one remaining abortion clinic."
Booker, 65, remembers when there were six. He worked at another Mississippi clinic from 1989 to 2003, then moved to this one. Opponents have picketed his home in a nearby town, he said, and knocked on his neighbors' doors to denounce him as a "baby killer."
One of the regular clinic protesters, C. Roy McMillan, was a signer of the Defensive Action Statement, which asserts that killing an abortion doctor is justifiable homicide because it saves the lives of the unborn. Scott Roeder, accused of killing Tiller, told friends he agreed.
For 18 months between 1994 and 1996, Booker was under the protection of U.S. marshals, who moved him from place to place for his safety. Years later, he often wears a bulletproof vest.
"After Dr. Tiller died, I started thinking, 'What's the use?' They'll just shoot me in the head," Booker said. Although deputy marshals met with clinic staff members in Jackson last week to consider providing protection, he said he intends to continue living at home and following his routine.
"I'm older now," Booker said. "I'm not going to let them paralyze my life for how I think. That's what they try to do, bully everybody out for doing abortions."
Booker, who performs about 60 abortions a week, said he is careful to follow state law. But, citing medical research, he refuses to comply with the legislative mandate to tell women that abortion increases the risks of breast cancer and infertility. During one counseling session last week, he called them "two things definitely not associated with having an abortion."