Federal Judge Kristine Baker today extended until March 14 her temporary order that blocks the state from enforcing a new law that would likely end the use of a pill used in early-stage abortions in Arkansas.
Both Planned Parenthood, which operates two medical clinics in Arkansas and had sued over the law, and the state, which is defending the law, joined in a motion to extend the temporary order so both sides could develop legal arguments.
The state law mandates an outdated and little-used protocol on the drug that can cause a miscarriage in the first eight weeks of pregnancy and also requires a clinic to have an agreement with a doctor with hospital admitting privileges. Planned Parenthood, which provides the abortion pills, said a new drug protocol is safer and that it has been unable to find a doctor willing to help the clinic because of fear of harassment and stigmatization by abortion opponents. One other abortion provider in the state has provided the medication, but it also provides clinical abortions. If the law is successful, it would end the availability of early term pharmaceutical abortions in Arkansas, the most prevalent form of abortion in the U.S. today.
The judge’s order set a briefing schedule that includes an expected hearing on a request for an injunction in the case prior to the March 14 expiration of the temporary order.