A federal judge in Arkansas has blocked four new laws restricting abortion access in the state. Three of the laws were set to go into effect August 1st; the fourth would have gone into effect January 1st, 2018. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of Arkansas, and the Center for Reproductive Rights challenged these laws in June, and the judge’s ruling will enjoin them until the litigation is resolved.
The laws blocked by the preliminary injunction would:
- ban a safe and medically proven abortion method, making abortion care completely unavailable for some women as a pregnancy progresses;
- require notification of the woman’s partner or other family members and effectively allow them to block her abortion;
- create new, needless, and burdensome requirements to report a young woman’s abortion to local police in a way that invades her and her family’s medical privacy — on top of the already robust mandatory reporting to state authorities; and
- force doctors to request a vast number of medical records with no medical justification, all in an attempt to burden providers, violate physician-patient confidentiality, and delay or outright block women’s care.
Another Arkansas law, which targets abortion providers for medically unnecessary overregulation, has also been challenged in a lawsuit by Planned Parenthood Great Plains and the ACLU; a hearing on this case will be held on August 10.
Talcott Camp, deputy director of the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project: “We’re pleased to know these insulting, harmful, and unconstitutional laws will be enjoined while we fight them in court. By blocking these laws, the judge has prevented some of the most egregious burdens Arkansas politicians have tried to impose on women seeking abortion in the state.”
Rita Sklar, executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas: “Arkansas women can feel a little relief today, knowing that these laws are blocked from taking effect. Instead of protecting women’s health, Arkansas politicians have passed laws that defy decency and reason just to make it difficult or impossible for a woman to get an abortion. We’re fighting to see these laws struck down before they can be used to block a woman’s access to care.”
Statement from Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“Arkansas politicians made it their mission to rob women of their health care options this year. Today’s ruling elevates women’s health over four cruel and unconstitutional restrictions which ignore women’s dignity and privacy. The Center for Reproductive Rights will continue to stand with Arkansas women against attacks on their rights and vows to fight these restrictions until they are permanently blocked.”