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Court won’t rehear case over Arkansas abortion restrictions

December 16, 2020 GMT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A federal appeals court on Tuesday said it won’t reconsider its decision to lift a judge’s ruling that has blocked four Arkansas abortion restrictions from taking effect, including a ban on a common second trimester procedure.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said it won’t rehear its August decision vacating the 2017 preliminary injunction issued against the restrictions. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights had challenged the measures, suing on behalf of Dr. Frederick Hopkins, a Little Rock abortion provider.

The 2017 decision also blocked new restrictions on the disposal of fetal tissue collected during abortions. The other restrictions included one that bans abortions based solely on the fetus’ sex and another that requires physicians performing abortions for patients under 14 to take certain steps to preserve embryonic or fetal tissue and notify police where the minor resides.

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The appeals panel in August said the case needs to be reconsidered in light of a recent decision on abortion by the U.S. Supreme Court. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge applauded Tuesday’s ruling.

“This is another win validating the pro-life laws in Arkansas,” she said in a statement.

The laws could take effect as soon as Dec. 22 because of the decision, although the ACLU said it planned further court action.

“While we’re disappointed with this order from the Eighth Circuit, we’re not backing down — this fight is nowhere near over,” Ruth Harlow, senior staff attorney in the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project, said in a statement. “To the state of Arkansas: We’ll see you back in court.”