Judge blocks Arkansas from enforcing four new abortion restrictions

A federal judge has blocked Arkansas from enforcing four new abortion restrictions, including a ban on a common second trimester procedure and a foetal remains law that opponents argued would effectively require a partner’s consent before a woman could undergo a termination.

US District Court Judge Kristine Baker issued a preliminary last-minute injunction against the new restrictions, three of which were set to take effect this week. 

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Centre for Reproductive Rights had challenged the measures, suing on behalf of Dr Frederick Hopkins, an abortion provider in Little Rock.

The laws include a ban on a procedure known as dilation and evacuation, which pro-choice advocates say it is the safest and most common procedure used in second-trimester abortions, but the state argued is “barbaric” and a form of “dismemberment,” claiming it can have emotional consequences for 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 due to take effect in September 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,” Ms Baker wrote in her ruling.

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

“Arkansas women can feel a little relief today, knowing that these laws are blocked from taking effect,” Rita Sklar, executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas, said in a statement. 

“Instead of protecting women’s health, Arkansas politicians have passed laws that defy decency and reason just to make it difficult or impossible for a woman to get an abortion.”

Judd Deere, a…

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