Blog Post

SCOTUS Deals Blow to Planned Parenthood

Arkansas State Capital (Wikicommons)

Commentary by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS

In a surprising move, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Planned Parenthood’s challenge to an Arkansas law which will ban medication abortions in that state.

The Stream is reporting on the decision by the Supreme Court of the U.S. (SCOTUS) not to hear Planned Parenthood’s challenge to a new law that requires that any physician who “gives, sells, dispenses, administers, or otherwise provides or prescribes the abortion-inducing drug” must have hospital admittance privileges. This common sense law will insure that women who take the drug and experience complications are able to receive the medical care they need.

Even though a federal judge initially barred enforcement of the law, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that decision citing a failure by the judge to make essential factual findings.

Planned Parenthood claimed that it made every effort to comply with the new law but couldn’t find a single physician in the state who was willing to fulfill these duties.

“Planned Parenthood contacted every OB-GYN it could identify in the state, and none agreed to enter into the required contract,” their petition reads. “As the district court recognized, this is not surprising because ‘physicians who provide abortions or associate with physicians who provide abortions’ in Arkansas ‘risk being ostracized from their communities and face harassment and violence toward themselves, their family, and their private practices.’”

However, even the manufacturer of Mifeprex, also known as RU-486, the medication used to induce these abortions, has a long list of warnings on its website.

They claim that fatal infections and bleeding occur very rarely following use of the drug but insist that “Before prescribing MIFEPREX, inform the patient about the risk of these serious events. Ensure that the patient knows whom to call and what to do, including going to an Emergency Room if none of the provided contacts are reachable, if she experiences sustained fever, severe abdominal pain, prolonged heavy bleeding, or syncope, or if she experiences abdominal pain or discomfort, or general malaise (including weakness, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea) for more than 24 hours” after taking the drug.

Of the 1.52 million women who took the drug between the years 2000 and 2011, there were 2,207 reported cases of adverse events. These included 14 deaths, 612 hospitalizations, 58 ectopic pregnancies, 339 cases of blood loss requiring transfusions, and 256 cases of infections of which 48 were considered severe.

In spite of these alarming statistics, Planned Parenthood’s Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens chastised the Supreme Court for its decision and insisted that, despite the facts, the Arkansas’ law interferes with a woman’s right to “safe, legal abortion.”

“Arkansas is now shamefully responsible for being the first state to ban medication abortion,” Laguens said. “This dangerous law also immediately ends access to safe, legal abortion at all but one health center in the state.”

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, who has no monetary interest in the abortion industry and, therefore, no reason to promulgate baseless talking points, regards the law as a way to insure that those women who experience complications after using the drug can receive the care they need.

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

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