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High Court Allows Arkansas to Enforce Abortion Restriction

The United States Supreme Court will allow Arkansas to implement restrictions on how abortion pills are administered. Critics of a challenged state law say it could effectively end medication abortions in the state.

Justices rejected an appeal from Arkansas’ Planned Parenthood affiliate. The appeal asked the high court to review an appeals court ruling and reinstate a lower court order that had blocked the law from taking effect. Act 557, which was passed in 2015, says doctors who provide abortion pills must hold a contract with another physician who has admitting privileges at a hospital. The physician must also agree to handle complications.

The Arkansas law mirrors a provision in Texas law that the Supreme Court struck down in 2016.

The legal fight over the law is likely to continue, but the state is now capable of enforcing the law.

“As Attorney General, I have fully defended this law at every turn and applaud the Supreme Court’s decision against Planned Parenthood today,” Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, said in a statement. “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.”

Gov. Asa Hutchinson also released a statement Tuesday afternoon, applauding the high court’s decision to allow Arkansas to implement the law, which he believes will create safeguards to protect women in the case of complications to abortion-inducing medication.

“The Supreme Court’s decision today was good news for those who are concerned about health and safety in the administration of medically induced abortions,” said Hutchinson. “Not only does the court’s action uphold Arkansas law, but it also underscores the importance and necessity of protecting women, as well as the unborn, with common-sense measures.”

Planned Parenthood says it would move quickly for emergency relief in the lower court, incorrectly adding that the ruling makes Arkansas the first state in the country to ban medication abortions.

The organization suggested that the decision preventing women from obtaining medication abortions would create an undue burden on their right to an abortion.

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