ACLU and Center for Reproductive Rights Win in Federal Court, Blocking Four Anti-Abortion Laws in Arkansas

The Laws Would Have Cut Off Most Abortion Access in the State

January 5, 2021 6:15 pm

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LITTLE ROCK — In a critical victory for abortion access in Arkansas, the ACLU and the Center for Reproductive Rights secured an order today from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas blocking four state anti-abortion laws.

Last month, that court issued a 14-day temporary restraining order blocking the four laws only a few hours after the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals allowed them to take effect. During the short time the laws were in effect, Little Rock Family Planning Services was forced to cancel appointments. Today’s ruling will keep the laws blocked while the case continues.

“This order will ensure that essential reproductive health care services will remain available in Arkansas,” said Ruth Harlow, senior staff attorney in the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project. “The laws blocked by the court today do nothing but place roadblock after roadblock in front of patients, in violation of their constitutionally protected rights. Arkansas politicians may continue this ruthless attack on abortion, but we will see them in court every time.”

If allowed to take effect, the laws would completely prevent many people from obtaining abortion care, create intrusive and stigmatizing requirements that violate patients’ privacy rights, and leave the state with even more limited access to abortion. The litigation is supported by several medical experts and five Arkansas abortion patients who spoke to the devastating impact the laws would have if enforced.

“Arkansas legislators took an oath to protect people’s constitutional rights — not trample on them with harmful dictates and restrictions,” said Holly Dickson, executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas. “We’re relieved the court will continue to block these unconstitutional laws while we keep fighting to have them struck down for good.”

“Today’s decision brings welcome, but temporary, relief to those seeking time-sensitive and essential abortion care in Arkansas,” said Jenny Ma, senior staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “For now, anti-abortion lawmakers have been halted from devastating abortion access in the state. Just last month, we saw the impact of these laws when they took effect for just a few hours: patients were turned away and abortion access was severely limited. We can’t allow that to become the status quo for Arkansas and will continue to fight in court.”

The lawsuit was filed by the ACLU, the ACLU of Arkansas, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers LLP on behalf of Frederick W. Hopkins, M.D., M.P.H. and Little Rock Family Planning Services.

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