Supreme Court rejects challenge to Arkansas’ medication abortion ban

The Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to Arkansas’s ban on medication abortions Tuesday, leaving the case in the hands of lower courts who are debating whether blocking one specific type of abortion is a major burden on women’s abortion rights. Planned Parenthood of Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma had challenged the 2015 law, saying it would halt operations at two of the state’s remaining three abortion clinics. A district court had agreed and blocked the law, but the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sent the case back to a lower judge for more study on what the burden on women would actually be. The Supreme Court’s decision Tuesday not to take the case leaves the matter in the hands of those courts, but allows the state to start banning medication abortions for now. Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge applauded the high court’s move. “Protecting the health and well-being of women and the unborn will always be a priority. We are a pro-life state and always will be as long as I am Attorney General,” she said in a statement. The law requires an abortion provider dispensing the abortion pill to have a contract with a physician that has admitting privileges to a nearby hospital in case of emergency complications. Medication abortions occur during the first trimester and have been used by Planned Parenthood clinics for more than a decade. The abortion occurs after a woman orally takes a mixture of two pills.

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