In the wake of the Supreme Court declining to hear a challenge to an Arkansas law restricting medication abortion, Planned Parenthood has been canceling abortion appointments across the state.
The law, which can now go into effect, requires providers who dispense medication abortion to have a contract in place with another physician who has admitting privileges at a local hospital. In an effort to comply with the law, Planned Parenthood surveyed doctors across the state, but could not find any willing to enter into the contract. (This is not uncommon, as abortion stigma makes many physicians outside the field reluctant to get involved with the issue.) As a result, two of the state’s three remaining abortion clinics, both of which only provide non-surgical, medication abortion, may close.
In the meantime, appointments are being canceled. “The law that we were trying to get blocked went into effect immediately, and the immediate results were we had to turn away from the clinic people who were scheduled to take the pill,” Dr. Stephanie Ho, a physician at Planned Parenthood Great Plains in Fayetteville, Arkansas, told NBC News.
More from NBC:
The women whose appointments were canceled in Arkansas this week had already fulfilled a 48-hour waiting period from when they first sought the medication abortion and had undergone counseling and preliminary exams or lab tests, Ho said. Should women experience complications, they have access to a 24/7 nurse line, Ho said.
“These are human beings who deserve control of their lives,” Ho said.
Many of the people served by Planned Parenthood are low income. With only surgical abortions now available in the state at Family Planning Services in Little Rock, women served by Ho’s clinic in Fayetteville will have to drive 380 miles to have the procedure. Surgical abortions are also more expensive than the pills.
Lawmakers claim that this provision was made with women’s health and safety in mind—which is some shit we have heard before!—but medication abortion is an incredibly safe method to end a pregnancy, making this kind of law unnecessary. As doctors and advocates have repeatedly pointed out, both in Arkansas and elsewhere: Regulations like these having nothing to do with medicine and everything to do with shuttering clinics and denying people access to the procedure.
And they are effective and doing just that.