Supreme Court rejects appeal of decision upholding Arkansas law regulating chemical abortions

By Dave Andrusko

In a decision with potentially nationwide implications, the Supreme Court this morning rejected an appeal from the Planned Parenthood affiliate in Arkansas, thus allowing the state to enforce 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.

Currently, Missouri’s comparable law is before Judge Beth Phillips.

As NRL News Today reported, in 2015 U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker issued a preliminary injunction against Arkansas’ “Abortion-Inducing Drugs Safety Act.” However in July 2017, a three judge panel of the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the injunction.

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 Judge 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. This morning, without comment, the Supreme Court said no.

Without further legal action (which is highly unlikely, given Planned Parenthood’s history of litigation), the law, passed in 2015, would go into effect in mid-July.

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 this morning, 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.”

But when the 8th Circuit vacated the injunction, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said it was “because Planned Parenthood failed to show that the state law is a substantial obstacle, preventing most women from having access to abortion services. This commonsense law will help ensure that medication abortions are conducted in a safe, responsible manner and with appropriate protections for women. I will continue to defend Act 577 as Planned Parenthood continues its challenge.”

The effect of the Eighth Circuit’s ruling, upheld by the Supreme Court, is the Abortion Industry, led by Planned Parenthood, will hopefully be that they will now have to actually present evidence that a specific statute or regulation imposes an “undue burden,” as opposed to asserting the claim.