Planned Parenthood finally gave up fighting an Arkansas law this week that protects women who are experiencing emergency complications after an abortion.
The AP reports the abortion chain’s Arkansas branch said it can comply with the law now because a doctor with hospital admitting privileges agreed to a contract with its two abortion facilities.
The 2015 state law requires abortion facilities that dispense abortion drugs to contract with a doctor who has hospital admitting privileges. The requirement helps to ensure that patients who are experiencing complications receive timely emergency care.
Planned Parenthood has been fighting against the law for years, arguing that it would have to shut down its abortion facilities because doctors are not willing to work with them. This week, however, the abortion chain abandoned its lawsuit, and the state asked a judge to end a court order blocking the law, The Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette reports.
Planned Parenthood still claims the law is unconstitutional, but its ability to comply law means its lawsuit is basically pointless, according to the report.
Here’s more from the report:
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced the development in a news release late Monday afternoon after Planned Parenthood announced it will comply with the law. She asked a federal appeals court to vacate a district judge’s July 2 order preventing the law from being enforced.
“The removal of the preliminary injunction will allow Arkansas law to take effect, ensuring that women have access to reliable emergency health care following complications associated with medication abortions,” Rutledge said. “After challenging this requirement for three years and claiming it could not comply, Planned Parenthood has finally agreed to follow this common-sense law.”
The abortion chain did not name the doctor who is contracting with its abortion facilities in Little Rock and Fayetteville.
Bettina Brownstein, an attorney for the abortion group, claimed the law “has nothing to do with women’s health or safety,” but they will not fight it anymore. She said the doctor who came forward is “somebody wonderful.”
But there are reasons to be skeptical about the abortion chain’s compliance. In an interview with the local news, Brownstein hinted about a loophole in the law:
Brownstein said the doctor who came forward isn’t required by the law to work or live within any particular distance of a hospital or from the woman taking the abortion-inducing medication, and will be available to consult by telephone with other physicians — such as those in emergency rooms — in the event of an emergency.
Her statements raise questions about whether the doctor actually would be available to help women who are experiencing emergency complications, which is the purpose of the law.
Planned Parenthood has been fighting against the law for three years. In August, 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.
However, Planned Parenthood 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.
Lawyers for the state have 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.
Abortion drugs 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.