Could have impact on similar Missouri law
By Dave Andrusko
On Tuesday NRL News Today posted the good news that Planned Parenthood’s appeal of an Arkansas 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 had failed.
Without comment the Supreme Court said it would not second guess the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals decision to vacate a judge’s 2015 injunction against Arkansas’ “Abortion-Inducing Drugs Safety Act.”
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, concluded U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker had failed to “make factual findings estimating the number of women burdened by the statute.”
Planned Parenthood appealed and the 8th Circuit placed its ruling on hold while Planned Parenthood appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court said no.
Planned Parenthood had argued the effect of the law was to place an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to an abortion. As NBC News reported , Planned Parenthood “said because its clinics could not find any doctors willing to accept a contract with a Planned Parenthood-affiliated physician, clinics in Little Rock and Fayetteville would stop offering abortion services if the law went into effect.”
The impact of the decision is that “the only abortion procedure available in the state is surgical abortions offered by Family Planning Services,” NBC News’ Suzanne Gamboa reported.
The Arkansas Times, like most newspapers 100% pro-abortion, ran stories with headlines such as “Blow to abortion in Arkansas.”
But Gamboa went further in her sympathetic profile, beginning by mischaracterizing chemical abortions as “caus[ing] a process similar to a miscarriage in the early stages of pregnancy.” Then came the complaints from abortionists.
“The law that we were trying to get blocked went into effect immediately, and the immediate results were we had to turn away from the clinic people who were scheduled to take the pill,” Dr. Stephanie Ho, a physician at Planned Parenthood Great Plains in Fayetteville, Arkansas, told NBC News on Wednesday. …
Ho didn’t know how many appointments had been canceled, but she said the clinics were still trying on Wednesday to get in touch with women who had already scheduled appointments.
“It’s incredibly disheartening to call a patient and say you qualified for this last week but your government says that’s a decision you no longer get to make,” Ho said.
As we reported on Tuesday, Missouri’s comparable law is currently before Judge Beth Phillips. Writing for KCUR, the local NPR station in the Kansas City metropolitan area, Dan Margolies explained
Because the Eighth Circuit also covers Missouri, its ruling in the Arkansas case means that Planned Parenthood will have to present evidence of how many women stand to be affected by Missouri’s requirement.
The federal judge overseeing the Missouri case, Beth Phillips, last year refused to issue a temporary restraining order blocking it. Although she said she had “serious doubts” the requirement produced any benefits to women or the state, she also said Planned Parenthood had not demonstrated it could not comply with the regulation.
But if Planned Parenthood’s experience in Arkansas is any guide, that may be easier said than done. A declaration filed Tuesday by one of the plaintiffs in the Arkansas case, Dr. Stephanie A. Ho, says Planned Parenthood tried to comply with Arkansas’ back-up physician requirement by contacting ob-gyns throughout the state. But it says no physician was willing to contract with it.
“Some physicians or group practices informed us that they do not support a woman’s right to access abortion and would not help us,” Ho stated in her declaration.
“Others stated that they simply could not work with us, and at some group practices, the front deskstaff was so hostile once they heard that we were calling from Planned Parenthood that they would not even let us speak to the physicians and refused to take messages.”