Impact of Supreme Court Ruling on Arkansas Law Blocking Medication Induced Abortions on Women

Yesterday’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court not to hear a challenge to a controversial Arkansas law that blocks medication-induced abortions cleared the way for that law to go into effect.

The law could force two of the state’s three abortion clinics to close, according to the New York Times. The 2015 law requires providers that use medications to induce abortions during the first nine weeks of pregnancy to have contracts with doctors who have admitting privileges at a hospital in the state. Abortion clinics in Arkansas said they were unable to find any doctors willing to sign such contracts.

“Although the actual legal basis for the ruling is very narrow and the state’s law may well be overturned, there is no question that in the meantime the state’s most vulnerable women risk very serious health consequences,” says legal scholar and public health expert Sara Rosenbaum of the George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH).

“This is really about the impact on women's health and healthcare,” explains Susan Wood of the Milken Institute SPH’s Department of Health Policy and Management and director of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health. “Research shows that laws that restrict access to abortion services like the Arkansas law disproportionately burden those who already face barriers to care including limited finances, work schedules, and family responsibilities. Faced with such barriers, many women are unable to obtain their preferred form of abortion, must wait longer in order to receive a procedure, or, in some cases, cannot obtain an abortion at all.”

Planned Parenthood has already gone back to the district court and asked for a temporary restraining order to block the law, according to CNN.