United States Supreme Court Declines to Hear Case on Arkansas Abortion Law Ending the Use of Medication Abortions

On Tuesday, May 29, 2018, the United States Supreme Court denied Planned Parenthood’s petition for a writ of certiorari in Planned Parenthood of Arkansas & Eastern Oklahoma v. Jegley (8th Cir. 2017). At issue is an Arkansas abortion law that requires doctors who provide medication abortions to contract with a second doctor who has hospital admitting privileges. Arkansas has three abortion clinics, two of which only offer medication abortions; only the abortion clinic in Little Rock offers surgical abortions. Arkansas would become the seventh state to have only one abortion clinic should the law stand.

The Arkansas law was temporarily blocked in the lower courts by U.S. District Judge Kristine G. Baker. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit ruled that the lower court did not “make factual findings estimating the number of women burdened by the statute.” Arkansas has claimed 14 percent of the state’s abortion patients used medical abortions. The state further contends that Planned Parenthood has neither made good faith efforts to find doctors willing to meet the contract requirement nor shown that a large percentage of women seeking abortions would be affected by the law. The United States Supreme Court overruled a comparable Texas law in 2016, voting 5-3 to strike down the requirement that Texas doctors providing abortions have admitting privileges in a local hospital.


Additional Reading

Supreme Court won’t take up challenge to restrictive Arkansas abortion law, The Washington Post (May 29, 2018)

Planned Parenthood of Arkansas & Eastern Oklahoma, et al., Petitioners v. Larry Jegley, et al.

Planned Parenthood of Arkansas & Eastern Oklahoma v. Jegley, No. 16-2234 (8th Cir. 2017)