Planned Parenthood denied request to short circuit decision allowing Arkansas to enforce chemical abortion law

By Dave Andrusko

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker

On July 28, a three judge panel of The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis vacated a preliminary injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker that had prevented Arkansas from enforcing its law requiring abortion clinics providing chemical abortifacients to have a contract with another physician with admitting privileges at a local hospital who agrees to handle any complications.

Planned Parenthood appealed the decision reached by Circuit Judge Raymond Gruender of St. Louis, Chief Judge William Jay Riley of Omaha, Neb., and Senior U.S. District Judge James Gritzner of Des Moines, sitting by designation.

Yesterday the full 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals “denied Planned Parenthood’s request that the entire court hear arguments that earlier led a three-judge panel to overturn an order blocking a law aimed at abortion clinics,” Linda Satter reported. “[T]he 8th Circuit is now expected to issue a mandate allowing Act 577 to take effect.”

“A spokesman for Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said she was pleased the court denied Planned Parenthood’s request,” according to the Associated Press.

In vacating Judge Baker’s preliminary injunction and remanding the case back to her for further proceedings, the three judge panel said Judge Baker had failed to “make factual findings estimating the number of women burdened by the statute.”

At the time Attorney General Rutledge issued a statement, stating, “In a unanimous opinion, the 8th Circuit [panel] recognized that the lower court incorrectly analyzed the law.”

The injunction was vacated because Planned Parenthood failed to show that the state law is a substantial obstacle, preventing most women from having access to abortion services. This common sense law will help ensure that medication abortions are conducted in a safe, responsible manner and with appropriate protections for women. While the Court did not reach a final decision on the ultimate merits, today’s decision is an important notice to the lower court that this law has important benefits for patients. I will continue to defend Act 577 as Planned Parenthood continues its challenge.