Clinics Courts Reproductive Choice

Federal Court Rules in Favor of Arkansas Abortion Law

The Eight Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday to lift a block on four restrictive abortion laws passed in Arkansas.

Legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Arkansas, Holly Dickson, stated: “This ruling is a reminder that the fight against these extreme abortion restrictions is far from won… we are evaluating our next steps and will continue to fight to ensure these harmful and unconstitutional laws do not take effect.”

Included within the laws is a limit on a procedure common in second-trimester abortions and a provision that allows a person to litigate a doctor to stop their partner’s abortion. The ACLU and Center for Reproductive Rights initially litigated the laws on behalf of a Little Rock Abortion provider named Dr. Fredrick Hopkins.

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals cited Chief Justice John Roberts’ recent opinion as their reasoning for lifting the temporary injunction. In a footnote, the Chief Justice wrote that the “validity of admitting privileges law depend[s] on numerous factors that may differ from state to state.” This, coupled with the line, “state and federal legislatures [have] wide discretion to pass legislation in areas where there is medical and scientific uncertainty” were used as justification for the court’s ruling. These lines essentially imply that restrictive laws using alternative justifications can be implemented without violating the Constitution.

“The Supreme Court just weeks ago reaffirmed that a state cannot pass laws that unduly burden a person’s access to abortion, and that is exactly what these laws do,” said Hillary Schneller, staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights.

The laws are now set to take effect August 28.

Sources: 08/10, CNN 08/10, WTOP 08/10

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