U.S. top court rejects challenge to strict Arkansas abortion law




  • In US
  • 2018-05-29 14:52:11Z
  • By By Lawrence Hurley
Visitors to the Supreme Court are pictured jn the rain in Washington
Visitors to the Supreme Court are pictured jn the rain in Washington  

By Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In a setback to abortion rights advocates, the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday paved the way for Republican-backed restrictions on medication-induced abortions to take effect in Arkansas that could lead to the shuttering of two of the state's three abortion clinics.

The nine justices, with no noted dissents, declined to hear an appeal by abortion provider Planned Parenthood of a lower court ruling that had revived the state law, which sets regulations regarding the RU-486 "abortion pill," after it was earlier struck down by a federal judge. The law had remained blocked pending the outcome of the appeal to the Supreme Court.

The high court's action may not be the final word on the matter. Planned Parenthood can still ask a judge to reimpose the injunction blocking the law.

The Supreme Court in 1973 legalized abortion nationwide, but many Republican-governed states have passed laws seeking to impose a variety of restrictions, some so demanding that they may shut down abortion clinics and make the procedure far more difficult to obtain.

The justices, in a 2016 ruling, struck down a restrictive Republican-backed Texas law that had targeted abortion clinics and doctors in a decision that was seen as reaffirming and fortifying legal protections for abortion rights. Planned Parenthood had claimed the appeals court ruling in the Arkansas case had disregarded the precedent set in the Texas case.

The St. Louis-based 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals restored the law last year, reversing a 2016 ruling by a district court judge that had prevented it from going into effect.

Planned Parenthood Great Plains, which runs two of the three clinics that provide abortions in Arkansas, sued the state in 2015, saying the law would deprive many Arkansas women of their legal right to an abortion.

The law involves the RU-486 "abortion pill," also called mifepristone (brand name Mifeprex) and misoprostol (brand name Cytotec). It requires any doctor dispensing the drug to sign a contract with another doctor who would agree to handle any medical complications from it, an unusual and difficult-to-achieve arrangement. The contracted doctor also must have admitting privileges at a hospital designated to handle emergencies.

Arkansas said the law was aimed at protecting women against the "dangerous and potentially dangerous" off-label use of the abortion pills.

RU-486 was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2000 subject to the instructions stated on the label. The "off-label" use prohibited by Arkansas allowed for less physician oversight when RU-486 is used. Planned Parenthood, which offers only medication-induced abortions at its two facilities in Arkansas, said the effect of the law would be to ban such abortions in the state.

The only other abortion clinic in the state, Little Rock Family Planning Services in the state capital, offers both surgical and medication abortions. The district court judge had found that women in Fayetteville, for example, would then have to make two 380-mile (610-km) round trips to get an abortion at what would be the state's last remaining abortion clinic.

The state's lawyers said the Arkansas law differs from the Texas law as it does not require the doctors who provide abortions to have hospital admitting privileges. They also said the abortion providers failed to provide evidence that a significant number of women would be adversely affected.

In 2013, the Supreme Court left intact an Oklahoma court ruling that struck down a state law that would have effectively banned RU-486.

In the Supreme Court's current term, which runs through the end of June, the justices are weighing another abortion-related case in which operators of Christian-affiliated "crisis pregnancy centers" that steer women with unplanned pregnancies away from abortion are challenging a California law that requires them to post notices telling women about the availability of state-subsidized abortions.



(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham)

COMMENTS

More Related News

The Latest: White House skeptical of Ford
The Latest: White House skeptical of Ford's offer to speak

The White House is casting doubt on the willingness of a college professor to speak publicly about her sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Attorneys for Christine Blasey Ford told the Senate Judiciary Committee she would be willing to appear next week. A

Senate Judiciary aide resigns amid sexual harassment allegation: NBC
Senate Judiciary aide resigns amid sexual harassment allegation: NBC
  • US
  • 2018-09-22 16:58:09Z

An adviser responding to an allegation against Kavanaugh resigned amid a misconduct complaint against him, NBC reports.

Mitch McConnell Says Republicans Will 'Plow Right Through' Nominating Brett Kavanaugh
Mitch McConnell Says Republicans Will 'Plow Right Through' Nominating Brett Kavanaugh

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reassured Republicans that Judge Brett

The Latest: Demonstrators chant,
The Latest: Demonstrators chant, 'We believe Christine Ford'

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Latest on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and a woman who accuses him of sexually assaulting her decades ago (all times local):

GOP warns time running out for Kavanaugh
GOP warns time running out for Kavanaugh's accuser to talk

Republicans are warning that time is running out for Brett Kavanaugh's accuser to tell Congress about her claim he sexually assaulted her when both were teenagers, even as President Donald Trump called the woman's allegation hard to believe in one of the GOP's sharpest attacks on her credibility

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: US

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.