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Planned Parenthood Seeks Halt to Arkansas Abortion Pill Law

2 min read

LITTLE ROCK — Planned Parenthood asked a federal appeals court Tuesday to prevent Arkansas from enforcing restrictions on how the abortion pill is administered while the organization asks the nation’s highest court to review a ruling in favor of the new limits.

Planned Parenthood Great Plains asked the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to not allow its ruling in favor of the restrictions to take effect yet. The restrictions are part of a 2015 law that requires doctors who provide the abortion pill to maintain a contract with another physician who has admitting privileges at a hospital and agrees to handle any complications. The organization said it planned to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case.

The appeals court said last week that it wouldn’t reconsider a July ruling from a three-judge panel of the court that was in favor of the law.

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. Surgical abortions are not performed at those centers.

The organization said a third facility called Little Rock Family Planning, which offers the abortion pill but is not run by Planned Parenthood, also would not be able to comply with the requirement under the law. That facility does offer surgical abortions.

“A stay of this court’s mandate is necessary to maintain the status quo and ensure that Arkansas women can continue to access medication abortion and that women outside of the Little Rock area can continue to access abortion at all,” Planned Parenthood said in its filing.

The three-judge panel of the appeals court in July lifted a preliminary injunction that a federal judge had issued against the law. The panel 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.

Seven other states have similar restrictions requiring agreements with local hospitals, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a national research group that supports abortion rights. In Arkansas, the state has argued the restrictions are needed to protect women’s health.

A spokesman for Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge did not have a comment on the filing. He said Rutledge will respond at the appropriate time in court.

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