The Supreme Court has upheld a ban on medication-induced abortions in Arkansas. The law, which was passed in 2015, states that any physician who “gives, sells, dispenses, administers, or otherwise provides or prescribes the abortion-inducing drug” is required to be in possession of a contract with a physician who has admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.
Planned Parenthood mounted a last-minute legal challenge against the law Tuesday night, but the Supreme Court refused to hear it. “Arkansas is now shamefully responsible for being the first state to ban medication abortion,” Planned Parenthood Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens said in a statement, as reported by CNN. “This dangerous law also immediately ends access to safe, legal abortion at all but one health center in the state. If that’s not an undue burden, what is? This law cannot and must not stand. We will not stop fighting for every person’s right to access safe, legal abortion.”
Medication-induced abortion, which is only available early on during pregnancy, involves the combination of two pills called mifepristone and misoprostol which kill and flush out the unborn child. Lawyers for Arkansas argued 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.”
“I have fully defended this law at every turn and applaud the Supreme Court’s decision against Planned Parenthood,” said Leslie Rutledge, the Arkansas attorney general, according to the New York Times. “Protecting the health and well-being of women and the unborn will always be a priority. We are a pro-life state and always will be as long as I am attorney general.”
The law in Arkansas is quite similar to one in Texas that was slapped down by the Supreme Court back in 2016.
Writing his summary for the majority in the 5-3 decision, Justice Stephen G. Breyer said the Texas law was “a substantial obstacle” in the path of women seeking terminations and placed “undue burden on abortion access,” which he said was in violation of the Constitution.
In Arkansas, just one Planned Parenthood clinic in Little Rock is equipped to provide surgical abortions,