After the Arkansas Department of Health determined the facilities violated a state informed-consent law, three abortion clinics announced recently they will mount a court challenge.
Planned Parenthood’s two abortion facilities in Arkansas as well as a separate surgical abortion facility in Little Rock filed a notice in court that they will appeal the State Board of Health’s recent determination that the clinics violated a pro-life law Family Council supported in 2015.
In 2015 the Arkansas Legislature passed the Woman’s Right to Know Act that ensures women inquiring about abortion are given all the facts first — including information about abortion’s risks, consequences, and alternatives. The law also says women must be given at least 48 hours to weigh their options and that they cannot be charged for the abortion or for services related to the abortion before that 48-hour reflection period is over.
In some states, abortion facilities charge women up front for an abortion, before the end of any waiting periods. This can make the woman feel financially obligated to go through with the abortion even if she has second thoughts about abortion. The Woman’s Right to Know Act helps prevent that from happening in Arkansas.
Since 2015, annual reports from the Arkansas Department of Health indicate more than 700 women have chosen not to have abortions after receiving the information outlined in the Woman’s Right to Know Act.
Last spring inspectors with the Arkansas Department of Health cited Planned Parenthood’s facilities and Little Rock Family Planning Services for charging women for some procedures related to abortion before the end of the 48-hour reflection period. The three clinics took their case to the State Board of Health, which determined last October that the facilities had in fact violated state law.
This week the three clinics announced they will appeal that decision in court.
According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Planned Parenthood, Little Rock Family Planning Services, and the ACLU will argue that the law is unconstitutional and overly burdensome and that the Health Department exceeded its authority.
I am confident Arkansas can win this legal challenge over the state’s pro-life law.
Many states require abortionists to wait anywhere from 24-72 hours before performing an abortion, and Arkansas is not the only state that prohibits abortion facilities from charging women ahead of time for abortion or abortion-related procedures.
One of the jobs of the Arkansas Department of Health is to inspect abortion facilities to ensure they are complying with state laws. If they don’t have the authority to cite Planned Parenthood for violating this law, who does?
Photo Credit: By Brian Turner (Flickr: My Trusty Gavel) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
Earlier this month we wrote that Planned Parenthood was dropping its legal challenge in the federal Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals over the Abortion-Inducing Drugs Safety Act.
This 2015 law requires abortionists who perform chemical abortions to follow FDA protocols, and it requires abortion facilities that offer abortion drugs like RU-486 to contract with a doctor who has hospital admitting privileges to handle any complications arising from the abortion.
Requiring abortionists to follow FDA protocols may not sound like much, but it prevents abortion doctors from giving women abortion drugs later in pregnancy than the FDA recommends, which saves the lives of those unborn children.
After three years of wrangling in court, Planned Parenthood announced a few weeks ago that it would comply with the law even though it still thinks the law is unconstitutional.
Today the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that Planned Parenthood has filed a request with U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker to put its lawsuit on hold for at least six months, but let Planned Parenthood renew its lawsuit against the state in the future if it so desires, writing,
Planned Parenthood asked Monday that a federal judge put a six-month hold on its lawsuit challenging a state law affecting medication abortions or let the case be dismissed under a provision allowing it to be refiled if necessary. . . .
In a filing Monday, Planned Parenthood attorneys said they want to submit a status report at the end of a six-month period, so Baker “can determine whether to extend the stay or dismiss the case without prejudice,” which would allow the case to be refiled.
In other words, it sounds like Planned Parenthood is going to comply with the law for now, but they want to keep their options open.
This is still a pro-life victory. The Abortion-Inducing Drugs Safety Act is going to be enforced as intended, and even if Planned Parenthood were to re-file its lawsuit against the state in the future, I believe Arkansas would win the case.
Photo Credit: By jordanuhl7 [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons