Latest: Attorney general flags likely abortion ruling appeal
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Latest on a judge temporarily blocking three new laws that would restrict abortions in Arkansas (all times local):
Arkansas’ attorney general says she expects “further action” after a federal judge temporarily blocked three new abortion restrictions from taking effect in the state.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge says the challenge to the three laws was “frustrating but not unforeseen.” The Republican attorney general says U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker’s decision late Tuesday was “only the initial step” and that she expects her office to take more action.
In the past, Rutledge’s office has appealed orders from Baker that blocked state abortion laws. Last year, Baker granted a preliminary injunction to block another new state law that would effectively ban abortion pills. The state appealed but the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied its request to put on hold Baker’s decision in that case.
A federal judge in Arkansas says up to two-thirds of women seeking to terminate a pregnancy in Arkansas could be denied an abortion under a new state law passed by the Legislature this year.
U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker blocked three new laws late Tuesday, minutes before they were set to take effect. The ruling imposes a restraining order that will expire Aug. 6.
One law requires doctors performing abortions to be board-certified or -eligible in obstetrics and gynecology. Arkansas’ only surgical abortion clinic says such a restriction could force it to close .
Baker found that if that clinic closes and only medication abortions are available, then about 1,800 women, or 66% of all women seeking an abortion in Arkansas, would be denied.
She says the law “imposes an undue burden” on women seeking abortions and “provides no discernable medical benefit.”
A federal judge has blocked three new abortion restrictions from taking effect in Arkansas, including a measure that opponents say would likely force the state’s only surgical abortion clinic to close.
U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker granted a 14-day temporary restraining order shortly before midnight Tuesday. The 159-page order blocks the state from enforcing the new laws, including a measure prohibiting the procedure 18 weeks into a woman’s pregnancy. They also included a requirement that doctors performing abortions be board-certified or board-eligible in obstetrics and gynecology. An official with a Little Rock clinic that performs surgical abortions says it has one physician who meets that requirement, but he only works there a few days every other month.
Baker also blocked a law prohibiting doctors from performing an abortion if it’s being sought because the fetus was diagnosed with Down Syndrome.