Federal Judge Blocks Arkansas Abortion Ban

A federal judge temporarily blocked Arkansas’ 18-week abortion ban on Tuesday, saying in the ruling that if the ban went into effect it would cause “irreparable” damage to women seeking to have an abortion.

Eastern District of Arkansas Judge Kristine Baker’s ruling likewise blocks a new law that bans providers from performing an abortion if the woman’s decision to end the pregnancy was based on a diagnosis that the fetus has Down syndrome and a separate law that requires providers to be certified in obstetrics and gynecology. 

The ruling comes after a lawsuit against Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood in June, arguing that all three measures were unconstitutional.

Judge Baker wrote in her ruling that the measures “cause ongoing and imminent irreparable harm to the plaintiffs and their patients,” CNN informs. She further suggested that she would ultimately vote against the “unconstitutional” 18-week ban and in favor of abortion rights advocates.

“The Court concludes that, at this stage of the proceedings and on the record evidence currently before the Court, plaintiffs are likely to prevail on their argument that (the ban) unconstitutionally restricts pre-viability abortions and, therefore, is facially unconstitutional,” Baker wrote.

She previously instituted a two-week hold on all three measures just hours before they were to take effect. The Arkansas Attorney General filed an appeal to the hold almost immediately, saying through her communications director that “she continues to defend Arkansas law protecting women’s health by requiring a board-certified or eligible OBGYN to perform an abortion, as well as Arkansas laws that (protect) unborn life by prohibiting abortions after 18 weeks and at any time if based on a Down Syndrome diagnosis.”

The measure was signed by Arkansas’ Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson, banning abortions after the 18th week of pregnancy except in cases of rape or incest and medical emergencies.

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