Abortions halted at Arkansas clinic while new site sought

Planned Parenthood says it's stopped providing medication-induced abortions at its facility in northwest Arkansas while it looks for a new location, leaving the state with two abortion providers

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Planned Parenthood says it's stopped providing medication-induced abortions at its facility in northwest Arkansas while it seeks a new location, leaving the state for now with two abortion providers.

The drop in Arkansas' available providers comes as neighboring Missouri faces the prospect of becoming the first state without a functioning abortion clinic since 1974, the year after the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision that legalized the procedure nationwide.

Planned Parenthood doesn't offer surgical abortions at the Fayetteville clinic or its Little Rock facility but an unaffiliated clinic, Little Rock Family Planning Services, does.

"We chose to seek an alternative location that would meet our high standards for safety and ensure we can continue to provide the comprehensive care our patients need and deserve," Hill said in a statement from the group Tuesday. "Make no mistake: We remain committed to providing care in northwest Arkansas, and we are working swiftly to ensure we reopen our doors as soon as possible."

Hill said Planned Parenthood is also looking at options for buying and renovating, if needed, a new health center. He said the organization has "several live possibilities" between the buying and rental options.

The providers are challenging three new abortion restrictions set to take effect July 24. The restrictions include one that attorneys say would likely force the closure of Little Rock Family Planning, the state's only surgical abortion provider.

Planned Parenthood on Saturday asked to withdraw from the lawsuit's request for an order temporarily blocking the laws' enforcement, citing the temporary closure of its Fayetteville facility. Hill said the group will notify the court when it is able to resume abortions in northwest Arkansas. A hearing on the request to block the laws is scheduled for July 22.

The Missouri health department has refused to renew the license of the state's only clinic, but the facility has been allowed to continue providing the procedure until at least October as the fight over its future plays out.

Hill said in the court filing the Fayetteville facility stopped providing medication-induced abortions last week so it could schedule follow-up visits with the patients as required by law before the clinic closes.

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Follow Andrew DeMillo on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ademillo

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