The Supreme Court is allowing Arkansas to put in effect restrictions on how abortion pills are administered.
Critics of a challenged state law say it could effectively end medication abortions in the state.
The justices did not comment Tuesday in rejecting an appeal from the Planned Parenthood affiliate in Arkansas that asked the court to review an appeals court ruling and reinstate a lower court order that had blocked the law from taking effect.
The law says doctors who provide abortion pills must hold a contract with another physician who has admitting privileges at a hospital and who would agree to handle complications.
The law is similar to a provision in Texas law that the Supreme Court struck down in 2016.
The Supreme Court is allowing Arkansas to put in effect restrictions on how abortion pills are administered
The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the court order barring enforcement of the law, but put its ruling on hold while Planned Parenthood appealed to the Supreme Court.
The legal fight over the law is not over, but the state is now free to enforce the law at least for the time being.
‘As Attorney General, I have fully defended this law at every turn and applaud the Supreme Court’s decision against Planned Parenthood today,’ Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, a Republican, said in a statement.
‘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.’
Planned Parenthood said it would move quickly for emergency relief in the lower court, saying the ruling effectively makes Arkansas the first state in the country to ban medication abortions.
Critics of the state law say it could effectively end medication abortions in the state.
Planned Parenthood has said that if the law stands, Arkansas would be the only state where women would not have access to a pair of drugs that end pregnancies: mifepristone, which makes it difficult for a fetus to attach to the uterine wall, and misoprostol, which causes the body to expel it, similar to a miscarriage.
The organization offers pills to end pregnancies at clinics in Fayetteville and Little Rock but says it cannot find any Arkansas obstetrician willing to handle hospital admissions.
Preventing women from obtaining medication abortions would create an undue burden on their right to an abortion, Planned Parenthood says.
Undue burden is the standard set by the Supreme Court to measure whether restrictions go too far in limiting women who want an abortion.
‘This dangerous law also immediately ends access to safe, legal abortion at all but one health center in the state,’ Dawn Laguens, vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement. ‘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.’
The state had argued the restriction was needed to protect women from any complications from the abortion pills. But Planned Parenthood argued that such complications are rare, and that those complications can be handled by hospitals without contacting the group’s physicians.
The 2015 law is among several abortion restrictions the predominantly Republican state has enacted over the past several years that have been the subject of legal challenges.