Arkansas Health Care Providers File Emergency Request to Block Anti-Abortion Laws

Multiple Laws Scheduled to Take Effect as Early as Tomorrow Will Wreak Havoc on Abortion Access in the State

December 21, 2020 11:00 am

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The ACLU and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed for emergency relief to block four anti-abortion laws from taking effect as early as tomorrow in Arkansas.

The action comes after the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals denied a request for en banc rehearing last week of an Aug. 2020 decision that paved the way for Arkansas abortion restrictions to go into effect. In their filing today in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, the groups asked the court to block the laws that would completely prevent many people from obtaining abortion care, create intrusive and stigmatizing requirements that violate patients’ privacy rights, and would leave the state with even more limited access to abortion.

“Arkansas legislators passed these laws in violation of the Constitution and to the detriment of their constituents’ health and dignity,” said Ruth Harlow, senior staff attorney in the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project. “We’re going to fight for as long as it takes to stop these restrictions from taking effect. States like Arkansas will not be allowed to push abortion out of reach on our watch.”

“Access to abortion care is already severely limited in Arkansas, and these laws would push reproductive care even further out of reach,” said Holly Dickson, executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas. “We won’t stand by while politicians try to punish, stigmatize, or deny people the freedom to make their own personal decisions about their families and their health. We’ll keep taking them to court — as many times as it takes — to protect the human dignity and personal autonomy of every Arkansan.”

“Not only are these laws unconstitutional, if they go into effect, they will unnecessarily expose pregnant people to severe and unwarranted harm,” said Jenny Ma, senior staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “If a pregnant person is in an abusive relationship or has a hostile home environment, the law requiring clinics to inform a patient’s partner or family of their abortion could seriously threaten their safety. And that’s just one of the laws. We will exhaust our legal options to make sure all of the challenged laws remain blocked.”

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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