A federal district court in Arkansas has temporarily blocked a set of abortion bans and restrictions that would have outlawed certain abortions and severely restricted abortion access in the state. The laws were set to go into effect yesterday July 24, 2019.

According to a press release, the lawsuit was filed by the ACLU, the ACLU of Arkansas, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers, LLP on behalf of Little Rock Family Planning Services, Planned Parenthood Great Plains, and two physician providers, and challenged three laws. The laws included a ban on abortion starting at 18 weeks of pregnancy, a ban on abortion based on a patient’s reason for seeking care, and a law prohibiting qualified physicians from providing abortions. 

“We’re relieved that these bans and restrictions have been blocked from taking effect and we’re determined to see them struck down for good,” said Holly Dickson, legal director and interim executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas. “Personal medical decisions are just that – personal – and politicians have no business barging into people’s private decisions, shutting down clinics and blocking people from care that they need.”

“In states like Arkansas, Alabama, Kentucky, Ohio, and Georgia, politicians are passing abortion bans as part of a nationwide strategy to prevent people from getting the care they need,” said Meagan Burrows, staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “This strategy is out of step with both what the public wants and—as this decision shows—what the Constitution requires.”     

Anti-abortion politicians in Arkansas have passed 25 restrictions targeting abortion providers in the last few years. Had the challenged laws been permitted to take effect, they would have left the state with only one health center to provide abortion care, and would have eliminated surgical abortion care in the state entirely. 

In granting the temporary restraining order, the court wrote that the evidence indicates that the laws “cause ongoing and imminent irreparable harm to the plaintiffs and their patients” and that “Arkansas women seeking abortions face an imminent threat to their constitutional rights.” 

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