May 31, 2018

Challenge to strict Arkansas abortion law rejected: US SC


The Supreme Court is allowing the state of Arkansas to put in effect restrictions on how abortion pills are administered. Critics of a state law that had been challenged in the courts say the ruling could effectively end medication abortions in the state.

The law, passed in 2015, says that any physician who "gives, sells, dispenses, administers, or otherwise provides or prescribes the abortion-inducing drug" shall have to have a contract with a physician who has admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

The nine Justices, with no noted dissents, declined to hear an appeal by abortion provider Planned Parenthood of a lower-court ruling that had revived the state law, which sets regulations regarding the RU-486 “abortion pill,” after it was earlier struck down by a federal Judge. The law had remained blocked pending the outcome of the appeal to the Supreme Court.

Planned Parenthood, which argues that the law would ban medication abortion in Arkansas, also said it is telling patients they can no longer access medication abortions at its two clinics in the state. The only other abortion clinic in Arkansas, Little Rock Family Planning Services in the state capital, offers both surgical and medication abortions.

“This law cannot and must not stand. We will not stop fighting for every person’s right to access safe, legal abortion,” said Dawn Laguens, Planned Parenthood’s Executive Vice President.

Lawyers for Arkansas said that the law is a "commonsense requirement" that "merely requires medication abortion providers to have a contractual relationship (to ensure follow-up treatment if needed) with a physician that has admitting privileges."

The Supreme Court in 1973 legalized abortion nationwide, but many Republican-governed states have passed laws seeking to impose a variety of restrictions, some so demanding that they may shut down abortion clinics and make the procedure far more difficult to obtain.

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