On New Year’s Day, Act 577–the Abortion-Inducing Drugs Safety Act–was set to go into effect; the law passed by the Arkansas Legislature last spring requires abortion doctors to follow the FDA’s protocols when performing drug-induced abortions, and it requires abortion clinics to contract with a physician who has admitting privileges at a local hospital to handle complications that arise from the abortion.
Late in the afternoon of December 31, U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker issued a temporary restraining order blocking these two portions of the law. The restraining order will last 14 days, giving the State of Arkansas and Planned Parenthood more time to prepare and present arguments in the case.
According to the Attorney General’s office, the restraining order only affects Planned Parenthood of the Heartland; no other abortion clinics are impacted by the ruling–meaning the surgical abortion clinic in Little Rock must follow the new law.
Under the federal Food and Drug Administration’s protocols, doctors may only administer abortion-inducing drugs like RU-486 through the seventh week of pregnancy; however many abortion clinics disregard the FDA’s protocols by offering the drugs as late as the ninth week of pregnancy.
Abortion-inducing drugs are typically given in two rounds. The first round poisons the unborn baby; the second causes the baby to be expelled from the woman’s body. Under the FDA protocols, both rounds of drugs must be administered by the physician at the clinic, but many doctors disregard the FDA’s protocols by allowing the woman to take the second round of drugs at home, without any medical supervision. This presents serious risks for women who experience complications as a result of the drugs.
Also, many doctors administer lower dosages of the abortion-inducing drugs than the FDA protocols require. Many believe this makes it more likely a woman will experience complications resulting from the abortion.
Requiring abortion clinics to contract with a physician who has admitting privileges at a local hospital arguably is not an undue burden. As it stands, women who experience complications resulting from an abortion are referred to the nearest Emergency Room. These complications can be life-threatening. E.R. doctors have had no prior contact with these women, presenting obstacles in terms of continuity and quality of care. The Abortion-Inducing Drugs Safety Act helps address these concerns.
Critics of the new law claim it will prevent them from dispensing abortion-inducing drugs. That simply is not true. The new law requires doctors and abortion clinics to follow the FDA’s protocols when administering these drugs–which is hardly burdensome–and maintain a relationship with a physician who has admitting privileges at a local hospital–which may help save the lives of women who experience complications as a result of these abortion-inducing drugs. This is just commonsense. It isn’t the legislature’s fault if a clinic can’t or won’t follow the law.
Perhaps Governor Asa Hutchinson said it best last week:
“As made evident by their lawsuit, Planned Parenthood places a premium on the convenience of abortion providers over the health and welfare of women seeking these procedures.”