A federal judge on Tuesday blocked an Arkansas law that would have banned nearly all abortions from going into effect.
The ruling: Judge Kristine Baker of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas issued a preliminary injunction that prevents the law from coming into effect a final ruling is issued. She wrote that bans on abortions before a fetus is considered viable are “categorically unconstitutional.”
She said that the plaintiffs, Little Rock Family Planning Services which filed the lawsuit on behalf of itself and its patients, have standing to challenge the law over how it affected “pre-viability abortions.” Baker concluded they are “likely to succeed on the merits” of their argument.
“Defendants make no argument as to whether or not plaintiffs or plaintiffs’ patients will experience irreparable harm,” Baker wrote. “Since the record at this stage of the proceedings indicates that women seeking abortions in Arkansas face an imminent threat to their constitutional rights, the Court concludes that they will suffer irreparable harm without injunctive relief.”
The Arkansas law would prohibit abortion providers from performing abortions in almost all situations, except in cases when the mother’s life is in danger. The law makes no exceptions for incest, fetal anomalies, or rape, making it one of the strictest anti-abortion laws in the U.S.
Those who break the law would face up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $100,000.
Republican Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed the legislation into law in March this year. He had said that it’s meant to directly challenge Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized the procedure.
“I signed it because it is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade,” he told CNN’s “State of the Union.”
In fact, the bill states that “it is time for the United States Supreme Court to redress and correct the grave injustice and the crime against humanity which is being perpetuated.”
The law was set to take effect on July 28.
The response: The ACLU praised the decision, The Associated Press reported.
“We’re relieved that the court has blocked another cruel and harmful attempt to criminalize abortion care and intrude on Arkansans’ deeply personal medical decisions,” Holly Dickson, executive director for the ACLU of Arkansas said.
“Today’s ruling demonstrates that the court fully understands the harmful and immediate effects this law would have on Arkansans,” said the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, Brandon Hill.
“The Attorney General is disappointed in today’s decision by Judge Baker. She will be reviewing it to consider the appropriate next step to protect the life of the unborn,” said spokeswoman Stephanie Sharp.
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