A federal judge blocked Arkansas’ controversial abortion bill on Tuesday. The Court wants to consider the challenge to its constitutionality. The bill would have been effective starting Friday.
“Since the record at this stage of the proceedings indicates that women seeking abortions in Arkansas face an imminent threat to their constitutional rights, the Court concludes that they will suffer irreparable harm without injunctive relief,” U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker wrote.
In May, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and other reproductive rights groups filed a lawsuit to challenge the legislation that Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson signed in March.
The law made it a felony crime to perform or attempt to perform an abortion. There were no provisions for women impregnated by rape or incest.
“Arkansas pursued a clearly unconstitutional law that would disproportionately harm people of color, people who live in rural areas, and people with low incomes — all of whom already face significant barriers to accessing health care and higher risks of pregnancy-related death,” Meagan Burrows, a staff attorney for the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project.
“Every person has a constitutionally protected right to access abortion care, including from trusted medical providers in Arkansas,” Planned Parenthood posted on Twitter. “Access to health care is a basic human right, and every person deserves care that gives them control over their own bodies, lives, and futures.”
The Arkansas Governor has signed several restrictive abortion laws since he has been in office. Governor Hutchinson acknowledged that he had concerns about the legislation but signed it because of its “overwhelming legislative support and my sincere and long-held pro-life convictions.”
“I signed it because it is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade,” Governor Hutchinson told Dana Bash on CNN’s “State of the Union” in late March.
“(The ban) is in contradiction of binding precedents of the U.S. Supreme Court, but it is the intent of the legislation to set the stage for the Supreme Court overturning current case law,” the Governor said. “I would have preferred the legislation to include the exceptions for rape and incest, which has been my consistent view, and such exceptions would increase the chances for a review by the U.S. Supreme Court.”
“This is kind of the moment that states like Arkansas, and anti-abortion politicians in those states, have been waiting for,” Burrows said in an interview with CNN. “But as it stands right now, Roe v. Wade and its bright-line rule that states cannot outright prohibit abortion prior to viability is still the law of the land. And all lower courts — both district courts and courts of appeals — are bound by that unless and until the Supreme Court changes course.”