The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Arkansas, and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit challenging four extreme Arkansas provisions that would impose severe burdens on women’s constitutionally protected right to decide to end a pregnancy and force them to endure invasions, investigations, and insults to get the abortion care they need. The lawsuit was filed in June 2017 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas.
The lawsuit is challenging these dangerous provisions to stop politicians from interfering in a woman’s personal decisions about abortion.
The federal lawsuit was brought on behalf of a physician dedicated to serving women, including many low-income women, at one of the last two abortion clinics in Arkansas. The doctor argues that enforcement of each of the challenged laws would impose severe and unwarranted burdens on women’s constitutionally protected right to seek abortion care.
The restrictions imposed by these new laws would:
- Ban a safe and medically proven abortion method, dilation & evacuation (D&E). Banning this standard medical practice will make abortion care completely unavailable for some women as a pregnancy progresses. (H.B. 1032)
- Under the guise of embryonic or fetal tissue requirements, require notification of the woman's partner or other family members and effectively allow them to block her abortion. (H.B. 1566)
- Create new, invasive, and burdensome reporting requirements to local police for abortions obtained by young women — on top of the already robust and appropriate mandatory reporting to the State authorities. (H.B. 2024)
- Force doctors to request a vast number of medical records with no medical justification. This broad and vague provision invades a woman’s privacy, creates a bureaucratic nightmare, and will grossly delay and could outright block her abortion care. (H.B. 1434)
With these four new laws, Arkansas politicians create invasive, medically unnecessary, burdensome hurdles that do nothing to advance women’s health and are tantamount to outright abortion bans for many women.
The first three provisions are set to go into effect on July 30, 2017, and the fourth takes effect January 1, 2018. The suit seeks injunctive relief against these laws to safeguard constitutional rights and protect the health and wellbeing of the plaintiff’s patients.