Judge temporarily blocks 3 Arkansas pro-life laws, stalling possible closure of lone surgical abortion clinic

Gov. Asa Hutchison
Former Rep. Asa Hutchinson, now Governor of Arkansas, and former consultant of the National Rifle Association, discusses the findings and recommendations of the National School Shield Program at the Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson the National Press Club in Washington, April 2, 2013. |

A federal judge issued a temporary block to a set of Arkansas laws that, if enacted, would likely lead to the closure of the state’s only surgical abortion clinic.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker issued a two-week restraining order on the enforcement of laws, coming mere hours before they were scheduled to take effect.

The three laws being challenged include a ban on abortions after 18 weeks into a pregnancy, abortions performed because a baby was diagnosed with Down syndrome, and a requirement that abortion providers be board-certified.

Known as Little Rock Family Planning Services, the clinic will be able to remain open for the time being and perform abortions up to 10 weeks into a pregnancy, according to NPR.

The Arkansas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which is challenging the law on behalf of Little Rock Family Planning Services, Planned Parenthood Great Plains, and two physician providers, celebrated the order.

Holly Dickson, interim executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas, said in a statement released Wednesday that she was “relieved” by the order.

“We’re relieved that these bans and restrictions have been blocked from taking effect and we’re determined to see them struck down for good,” stated Dickson.

“Personal medical decisions are just that — personal — and politicians have no business barging into people’s private decisions, shutting down clinics and blocking people from care that they need.”

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge disapproved of the order, saying in a statement released Wednesday that the litigation was “frustrating.”

“The last minute attempt by the ACLU to block Arkansas’ laws is frustrating, but not unforeseen,” stated Attorney General Rutledge.

“The action was only the initial step and I anticipate further action in the near future in our defense of these laws that protect the life of mothers and their unborn children.”

Americans United for Life ranked Arkansas as the second most pro-life state in the nation in a report released in January, with Arizona being No. 1.

“Arkansas has been a leader in implementing the Mother-Child strategy, enacting laws that protect both mother and child from the harms inherent in abortion,” stated AUL’s report.

“It maintains strong informed consent and parental involvement requirements, comprehensive health and safety requirements for abortion facilities, and effective limits on state taxpayer funding for abortion and abortion providers.”

Arkansas’ recently passed pro-life laws are among many laws passed this year that greatly restrict or ban abortion.

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