Judge blocks new re­stric­tions on abor­tions in Arkansas

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By An­drew Demiller

LIT­TLE ROCK, ARK.» A fed­eral judge has blocked Arkansas from en­forc­ing four new abor­tion re­stric­tions, in­clud­ing a ban on a com­mon sec­ond trimester pro­ce­dure and a fe­tal re­mains law that op­po­nents say would ef­fec­tively re­quire a part­ner’s con­sent be­fore a woman could get an abor­tion.

U.S. Dis­trict Court Judge Kris­tine Baker is­sued a pre­lim­i­nary in­junc­tion late Fri­day night against the new re­stric­tions, three of which were set to take ef­fect Tues­day. The Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union and the Cen­ter for Re­pro­duc­tive Rights had chal­lenged the mea­sures, su­ing on be­half of Dr. Fred­er­ick Hop­kins, a Lit­tle Rock abor­tion provider.

The laws in­clude a ban on a pro­ce­dure known as di­la­tion and evac­u­a­tion. Abor­tion rights sup­port­ers say it is the safest and most com­mon pro­ce­dure used in sec­ond-trimester abor­tions, but the state calls it bar­baric and “dis­mem­ber­ment abor­tion,” say­ing it can have emo­tional con­se­quences for the women who un­dergo it. Sim­i­lar bans are in ef­fect in Mis­sis­sippi and West Vir­ginia and have been blocked by court rul­ings in Alabama, Kansas, Louisiana and Ok­la­homa. A ban ap­proved in Texas will take ef­fect in Septem­ber and is also be­ing chal­lenged in court. The groups said the ban would have a dev­as­tat­ing im­pact.

“The threat­ened harm to Dr. Hop­kins and the frac­tion of women for whom the man­date is rel­e­vant clearly out­weighs what­ever dam­age or harm a pro­posed in­junc­tion may cause the State of Arkansas,” Baker wrote in her rul­ing.

The groups praised Baker’s rul­ing, say­ing the laws would have ef­fec­tively banned abor­tion for many women.

Baker’s rul­ing also halts a law that would im­pose new re­stric­tions on the dis­posal of fe­tal tis­sue from abor­tions. The plain­tiffs ar­gued that it could also block ac­cess by re­quir­ing no­ti­fi­ca­tion of a third party, such as the woman’s sex­ual part­ner or her par­ents, to de­ter­mine what hap­pens to the fe­tal re­mains. The state has said the law doesn’t re­quire per­mis­sion or no­tice from those third par­ties be­fore an abor­tion and in­cludes sev­eral pro­vi­sions that en­sure no­tice or con­sent isn’t re­quired to dis­pose of the fe­tal re­mains.

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