Act 577 is a medically unnecessary and draconian abortion restriction that would’ve eliminated all but one abortion provider in the state of Arkansas.Planned Parenthood faults the 8th Circuit for refusing to consider that the requirement of a backup physician provides no demonstrable benefits except to those who want to restrict abortion. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a similar law in Texas on that ground, the organization said.
Planned Parenthood Great Plains Interim President and CEO Aaron Samulcek:
“Planned Parenthood Great Plains never wavered in protecting our patients’ constitutional rights to access safe, legal abortion. Act 577 would impose medically unnecessary and senseless restrictions on access to abortion, creating undue burdens for women in the state. As we march forward to seek review in the U.S. Supreme Court, we stand by the countless Arkansans who will continue accessing expert, compassionate health care at our health centers in Fayetteville and Little Rock.”
“It is unfortunate that Planned Parenthood continues to fight reasonable, common sense health and safety regulations to ensure that medication abortions are conducted in a safe manner. Attorney General Rutledge will continue to defend this law and urge the Supreme Court of the United States to reject certiorari.”
The Arkansas requirement is impossible to comply with for many reasons, including because it limits eligible backup providers to a very narrow scope of medical practitioners, and because, as numerous courts have recognized, abortion providers face severe stigma, harassment, and violence. This law fails to guarantee the privacy – and therefore the safety — of the backup provider and could open physicians up to harassment or political pressure. And it does nothing to add to patient safety.Enforcement of the law would leave only a single clinical abortion provider in Little Rock. Planned Parenthood notes that existing requirements of the law require a woman to make two trips to a doctor before receiving an abortion. For someone in Fayetteville, that would mean two 380-mile round trips to receive a surgical abortion.
Leading medical experts like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists oppose medically unnecessary restrictions like these because they bar access to safe medical care.
According to the CDC, abortion has a more than 99% safety record. In those rare cases when complications do occur, they are similar to those that may occur from miscarriage, which obgyns and other physicians treat every day. Planned Parenthood Great Plains works every day to make sure women receive high-quality health care in a safe, respectful environment. We have rigorous standards and training for staff as well as emergency plans in place because women’s safety is our first priority.
In the extremely unlikely event that a patient experiences a serious complication from an abortion and requires hospital-based care, the high-quality, experienced physicians and nurses who work at Planned Parenthood have detailed systems in place to ensure that a patient gets care quickly. A recent, large-scale study showed that only 0.16 percent of medication abortion patients experienced a significant complication, and only six out of every 10,000 patients (0.06 percent) experienced complications resulting in hospital admission.