Appeals court won’t reconsider Arkansas abortion pill ruling

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A federal appeals court cleared the way Wednesday for Arkansas to impose new restrictions on the way the abortion pill is administered in the state, saying it won’t reconsider a panel’s decision in favor of the 2015 law.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said it won’t reconsider a three-judge panel’s ruling lifting a federal judge’s preliminary injunction against the law. The measure requires doctors providing the abortion pill to maintain a contract with another physician with admitting privileges at a hospital who agrees to handle any complications.

The panel in July sent the case back to U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker and said the judge should look into the number of women who would be unduly burdened by the requirement and whether it amounts to a “large fraction” of women seeking the abortion pill in Arkansas. Arkansas can’t enforce the restrictions until the court issues its mandate in the case. Abortion provider Planned Parenthood, which had sued over the restrictions, said it was evaluating its options on the next steps.

“This is not over. We’re continuing to serve our patients in Little Rock and Fayetteville while we do everything in our power to protect their access to care,” Aaron Samulcek, interim president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, said in a statement. “PPGP’s priority is to ensure Arkansans have access to expert, compassionate health care.”

Seven other states have similar restrictions requiring agreements with local hospitals, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a national research group that supports abortion rights. Planned Parenthood has said it would no longer be able to offer the abortion pill at its Little Rock and Fayetteville health centers if the law takes effect; it does not offer surgical abortions at those clinics. A third facility, Little Rock Family Planning, offers surgical abortions and the abortion bill. The state has argued the restriction is needed to protect women’s health.

A spokesman for Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said she was pleased the court denied Planned Parenthood’s request.


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