Planned Parenthood is canceling appointments for abortions scheduled in Arkansas this week after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the challenge to a new law restricting abortion pills.
NBC News reports that Arkansas’s new law, which effectively bans medication-induced abortions, went into effect as soon as the Supreme Court decided not to hear Planned Parenthood’s challenge on Tuesday.
Arkansas is the only state to restrict medication-induced abortion, which involves a combination of two pills, mifepristone and misoprostol — one taken with the doctor and the other taken at home.
The medication was only available to women in their first 10 weeks of pregnancy, NBC reported.
“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 Fayetteville, Ark.-based Planned Parenthood Great Plains, told NBC News.
Ho said she didn’t know how many patients would be affected. Clinics were still trying to contact women with scheduled appointments on Wednesday.
“It’s incredibly disheartening to call a patient and say you qualified for this last week but your government says that’s a decision you no longer get to make,” Ho said.
Women with canceled appointments had already completed the mandatory 48-hour waiting period, counseling and preliminary lab work or exams, Ho said.
"These are human beings who deserve control of their lives," Ho told the network.
The law, passed in 2015, slaps criminal penalties on doctors who provide the medication without a signed contract from a physician who has active admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles.
Lawmakers said the law was needed to protect a women’s health in case complications arose. But Planned Parenthood said the measure is an unnecessary burden on the procedure's accessibility.
Planned Parenthood said it was unable to find a physician to contract with, NBC News reports.
“Arkansas is now shamefully responsible for being the first state to ban medication abortion,” Planned Parenthood Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens said in a statement on Tuesday.
“This dangerous law immediately ends access to safe, legal abortion at all but one health center in the state. If that’s not an undue burden, what is? This law cannot and must not stand.”
Planned Parenthood plans to take the case back to the district court.