U.S. Eighth Circuit - The FindLaw 8th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Eighth Circuit Sends Back Abortion Decision

A Planned Parenthood victory dance over an abortion law lasted shorter than most White House jobs, as a federal appeals vacated an injunction in Arkansas.

The U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals said Planned Parenthood didn't show that the state's law was a substantial obstacle to women seeking abortion services. The law required that doctors who provide miscarriage pills must have hospital privileges in the event of complications.

"This common sense law will help ensure that medication abortions are conducted in a safe, responsible manner and with appropriate protections for women," said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.

"Dismemberment Abortion"

The American Civil Liberties Union, which represented Dr. Stephanie Ho in Planned Parenthood v. Jegley, had hailed the trial court's decision on related matters Friday night, only to wake up to a reversal on Monday.

Judge Kristine Baker issued a decision near midnight stopping four other laws from taking effect. The state legislature had banned "dismemberment abortion" -- abortion past 12 weeks -- last year. Lawmakers also passed laws that required abortion providers to obtain medical records for women, notify law enforcement for girls under 17 and to consult with family members about disposing fetal remains.

The state attorney general said she will appeal those rulings. In the meantime, however, the Eighth Circuit shot down Baker's earlier injunction against the hospital privileges law.

No Undue Burden

The appeals court said the judge failed to find that the law posed an undue burden on women.

"On remand, we do not require the district court to calculate the exact number of women unduly burdened by the contract-physician requirement," the court said.

However, citing precedent from the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, the judges said it requires more than a "freewheeling" estimate.

According to reports, women would have to travel 380 miles round trip to find abortion services because the Planned Parenthood doctors do not have hospital privileges.

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