Arkansas suffered a setback in an effort to protect its residents Wednesday when a federal appeals court refused to lift a block on a state abortion law.
The law requires abortion facilities that dispense abortion drugs to contract with a doctor who has hospital admitting privileges. Such requirements help ensure that patients who are experiencing complications receive timely emergency care.
Planned Parenthood challenged the law, however; and the lawsuit has been moving through the court for years.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit refused to grant the state’s request to lift a block on its enforcement of the law, the AP reports.
The abortion group said it has not been able to find doctors willing to contract with its two abortion facilities, and both would have to close if the law goes into effect, according to the report.
Dr. Brandon J. Hill, CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains in Arkansas, celebrated the decision as a step forward for their abortion practices.
“Though we know the case is far from over, we’re thrilled that this decision will allow women to continue accessing safe, legal abortion in the immediate future,” Hill said in a statement.
However, Planned Parenthood has suffered defeats in the case as well. In the spring, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear one of the abortion group’s appeals against the law.
The ruling is a continuation of appeals from last summer when Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge asked a federal circuit court to overturn a judge’s ruling and allow the law to go into effect. The attorney general argued that the lower court judge’s ruling was based on “clearly erroneous” findings.
In the appeal, the state argued that abortion drugs can result in serious complications, including incomplete abortions and the death of the woman. The state attorneys said Planned Parenthood sometimes refers patients who are experiencing complications to other abortion facilities or the emergency room, but it “cannot guarantee another provider will care for the patient.” They argued that the state law is necessary to protect patients in such cases.
The abortion drug RU-486 has a high complication rate and can be deadly to the mother as well as her unborn baby if complications are not treated. A Food and Drug Administration report in 2017 found that 22 women died, more than 1,000 were hospitalized and nearly 600 experienced severe blood loss that required transfusions after taking the abortion drugs.
The Daily Signal reported more about the case this spring:
At the heart of this case is a state’s effort to put women’s health and safety first. Though advocates of abortion claim it is one of the safest medical procedures, drug-induced abortions can have serious side effects and complications for women, including infection and uterine hemorrhage.
When it passed this law in 2015, the Arkansas Legislature found that more than 600 hospitalizations, roughly 250 infections, and at least eight deaths were attributable to medication abortions. It was with these risks in mind that the Legislature enacted the new law.
Planned Parenthood claims a 24-hour nurse’s hotline is good enough for women experiencing complications after an abortion, but Arkansas decided that women deserve better. In the more than 40 years since the Supreme Court invented a constitutional right to abortion, the abortion industry has evaded and fought commonsense regulations, like this one, at every step.