ARKANSAS, USA — Abortion rights activists are celebrating a reprieve by the U.S. Supreme Court to block, for now, a lower court decision that restricted access to a widely used abortion pill.
“It's more important than ever, that providers offer care that really is regional,” said President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, Emily Wales.
The ‘Great Plains’ region covers Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Western Missouri. Wales says since SCOTUS overturned Roe v Wade nearly a year ago, states that allow abortions, like Kansas, have seen an uptick in out-of-state patients.
Wales says the latest decision on the abortion pill, Mifepristone is welcoming news.
“That's the relief right now, but the case isn't over," Wales said.
Late Friday, the Supreme Court halted temporary restrictions on access to the drug while the battle plays out in the lower courts.
''What happens next is that the Fifth Circuit will review the case on its merits in a few weeks,” Elizabeth Kirk with the Columbus School of Law at The Catholic University said during an interview with CBS News. “They will issue an opinion."
The case, which could make its way back to the Supreme Court, began in Texas. The litigation seeks to reverse the FDA’s approval of the drug more than two decades ago.
“Patients across the country who thought that a very safe effective medicine has been used for more than 20 years, could have been inaccessible,” Wales said. “Because of one judge sitting in a state where abortion is not even legal.
Wales says if SCOTUS did not place a temporary halt on the drug, it would’ve impacted Arkansans and Oklahomans who travel to states where abortions are legal because Mifepristone would have been illegal nationwide.
A lawyer that pushed for the ban in Texas believes the courts will agree the FDA should have never approved Mifepristone.
"The courts have found our case compelling because the FDA fails to actually look at the data that they have before it and what our doctors have presented to them, clearly showing that these drugs present dangerous situations to women and girls,” said Eric Baptist with Alliance Defending Freedom.
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear arguments in less than a month about the FDA’s authority over Mifepristone.
NOTE: Planned Parenthood does have a location in Rogers, Arkansas. However, that location does not perform abortions.
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