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Federal Court Order Blocks Four New Arkansas Abortion Laws

Four laws were approved earlier this year by Arkansas lawmakers despite similar measures having been ruled unconstitutional in several other states. (JoeRaedle/GettyImages)
Four laws were approved earlier this year by Arkansas lawmakers despite similar measures having been ruled unconstitutional in several other states. (JoeRaedle/GettyImages)
July 31, 2017

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A federal judge has blocked Arkansas from enforcing four new abortion restrictions passed earlier this year by state lawmakers.

The laws include a ban on a common second-trimester procedure, allow a partner or family member to block a planned abortion, force doctors to save evidence and report the procedure to local police, and require doctors to obtain unnecessary medical records.

Some of the restrictions were set to take effect Tuesday.

Bettina Brownstein, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union – Arkansas, says the injunction blocks laws that violate the rights of Arkansas women to obtain a safe abortion.

"These laws are passed under the guise of advancing women's health and making abortions safer, and that's not true,” she states. “What they are passed for is to try to prohibit women from exercising this personal decision, to prevent it."

Brownstein says the ACLU, along with the Center for Reproductive Rights, challenged the regulations on behalf of Dr. Frederick Hopkins and Little Rock Family Planning Services, an abortion provider.

A spokesman for Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge says she disagrees with the ruling and plans to appeal.

Brownstein accused Arkansas lawmakers of passing the same "cookie cutter" laws that courts already have struck down in other states, including Louisiana, Kansas, Oklahoma and Alabama.

"The legislatures that pass these laws seem to copy them from each other or national anti-choice organizations,” she states. “It's no coincidence – it's a national campaign by anti-choice advocates to get these laws passed."

Brownstein says despite recent Supreme Court rulings upholding a woman's right to an abortion, groups such as the ACLU and others must fight to keep it that way.

"Unless these laws are invalidated or struck down as unconstitutional, abortion will not be available,”
she states. “That's just the bottom line, and these laws, in combination and a couple separately, if allowed to stand would prevent abortion in Arkansas."

Earlier Friday, a federal appeals court lifted a lower-court order blocking a 2015 Arkansas law limiting doctors who administer abortion pills. That law requires abortion providers to maintain a contract with a physician who has admitting privileges at a local hospital.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AR