Supreme Court Allows Arkansas to Ban Medication Abortion

The ruling may close all but one of the state's abortion clinics.

It may become next to impossible to get an abortion in the state of Arkansas, after the Supreme Court declined to hear a case challenging one of the state’s restrictive abortion laws. The law bans all abortions by medication, and this decision could leave Arkansas with only one abortion-providing clinic, according to The Cut. Arkansas is the first state to make medication abortions illegal. 

The Abortion-Inducing Drugs Safety Act, passed in 2015, requires all doctors who "gives, sells, dispenses, administers, or otherwise provides or prescribes the abortion-inducing drug" to have a contract with a physician with hospital admitting privileges, according to CNN. The law resembles a similar case the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional back in 2016 pertaining to abortion access in Texas.

After the law passed, Planned Parenthood attempted to contact physicians willing to enter contracts with abortion providers, but none agreed due to political and social reasons. The organization took the case to court, arguing this law causes undue burden on women seeking abortions.

With the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the case, the law will go into effect in July, as long as it remains unchallenged. Once the law goes into effect, only surgical abortions will be legal in Arkansas. Since two of the state’s three abortion clinics only provide medication abortions, which consists of taking two pills, they may close as a result. That means all women in the state of Arkansas seeking an abortion will have to be treated at the single remaining clinic, or turn to dangerous measures such as self-induced abortions.

Brandon Hill, a physician and the president & CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, shared his disappointment following the decision. "We are working urgently to restore access to medication abortion services at our health centers in Fayetteville and Little Rock," Hill said in a statement. "We will not stop fighting to ensure that every woman has access to essential, constitutionally-protected care, without politicians controlling when, how or why."

Planned Parenthood’s executive vice-president Dawn Laguens also released a statement criticizing the law. "Arkansas is now shamefully responsible for being the first state to ban medication abortion," she wrote. "This dangerous law also immediately ends access to safe, legal abortion at all but one health center in the state. If that’s not an undue burden, what is? This law cannot and must not stand. We will not stop fighting for every person’s right to access safe, legal abortion."

Latest in Life