Planned Parenthood Great Plains is asking the Supreme Court to intervene against an Arkansas law that it says would effectively ban medication abortion in the state.
Arkansas' Act 577 requires doctors who provide medication abortion to contract with a second doctor who holds admitting privileges at a local hospital. Its proponents say that it keeps women safe, but Planned Parenthood says the regulations are unnecessary and make it more difficult for a woman to obtain an abortion.
In 2015 Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit because it had not been able to find a doctor who was willing to partner with them because they were concerned about backlash. A federal district judge blocked the act last year, but it was overturned in July by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Three clinics currently perform abortions in the state, and two of them only provide medication abortion, which can be done up to nine weeks into a pregnancy. According to Planned Parenthood, if the law were to go into effect, the state would be left with one clinic that offers abortions.
Planned Parenthood drew parallels between the Arkansas' law and one in Texas that was struck down by the Supreme Court last year, in which the state had passed specific medical requirements clinics must meet in order to provide abortions. The Supreme Court ruled in that case, called Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, that Texas' law provided an undue burden to a woman who was seeking an abortion.
“The Supreme Court already looked at a nearly identical Texas restriction and found it to be unconstitutional," Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement. "The impact would be even more severe in Arkansas, making it the first and only state to effectively ban medication abortion. This law is yet another attempt by politicians to control women’s bodies and quietly ban abortion."
Arkansas lawmakers have passed 29 restrictions on abortion since 2011, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights and tracks laws related to reproductive health. One of the restrictions requires women to wait 48 hours to have an abortion and another requires fetal remains be buried or cremated.