The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to hear a challenge to an Arkansas abortion law that is among the most restrictive in the country, National Review is reporting.
By refusing to hear Planned Parenthood’s challenge to the Diamond State’s 2015 law, the court is essentially allowing it to take effect, likely in mid-July. However, by issuing the ruling without comment, the court didn’t say whether or not the law is illegal, in essence leaving it open for further court challenges. Planned Parenthood has already promised to challenge the law in court again.
Passed in 2015, the law in question required that any physician who performs an abortion or dispenses abortion-inducing drugs must have a contract with admitting privileges at a “nearby” hospital. As it’s written, the law would force two of the three abortion clinics in the state to close, according to CNN.
Judge Kristine G. Baker of the Federal District Court in Little Rock blocked the law in 2016, calling it “a solution in need of a problem.” The case then made its way to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit where a three-judge panel rejected Baker’s challenge, in part because Baker failed to specify how many women would be denied access to abortion because of the law.
In taking their challenge all the way to the Supreme Court, Planned Parenthood argued that the law was, in effect, a de facto ban on abortion, and thus unconstitutional in light of Roe v. Wade.
Now that the law will be allowed to stand, the door is open to new challenges – which Planned Parenthood Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens promises to fight, again.
“Arkansas is now shamefully responsible for being the first state to ban medication abortion. 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.”
Meanwhile, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge welcomed the ruling.
“I have fully defended this law at every turn and applaud the Supreme Court’s decision against Planned Parenthood. Protecting the health and well-being of women and the unborn will always be a priority.”
Arkansas is not the only state to have attempted to limit abortion access by requiring physicians to have admitting privileges at a hospital in order to perform them. As the Washington Post reported in 2014, 11 states had enacted or attempted to enact such laws.