A federal judge in Missouri this week upheld a state law restricting access to medication to induce abortions as the case awaits trial.
Under the state regulations passed last summer, which Planned Parenthood has challenged, providers of medication-induced abortions must find an OB-GYN who promises “to be available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week to treat complications related to abortion drugs prescribed or administered.”
The law effectively banned such procedures in the Missouri cities of Columbia, Joplin and Springfield, where clinics were unable to find such a doctor to be on call, according to The Kansas City Star.
U.S. District Judge Beth Phillips ruled Monday that those regulations will stay in place, according to the Missourian.
Phillips wrote in her opinion that the plaintiffs in the case failed to demonstrate it was a “substantial burden to a large fraction of women seeking a medication abortion,” though she also said that the state law had “very limited medical benefit.”
Medication-induced abortions, commonly referred to as “abortion pills,” are usually taken at home, with the first pill administered in a clinic and the second pill taken at home. The medication can be used up to 10 weeks into a pregnancy.
Most clinics also offer the surgical abortion option, which is not affected by the regulation. Phillips pointed to that as another reason backing her decision to uphold the regulations.
The ruling comes after reports of Planned Parenthood canceling appointments for abortions scheduled in Arkansas last May after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the challenge to a new law restricting abortion pills.
Arkansas’s new law, which effectively bans abortion pills, went into effect as soon as the Supreme Court refused to hear Planned Parenthood’s challenge.