As expected, federal lawsuits were filed today to block five Arkansas laws aimed at so restricting abortions in the state they’d be all but impossible to obtain.

Two suits were filed. One,  filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Arkansas and the Center for Reproductive rights, challenges:


* A law that would ban a safe and medically approved medical procedure, known as dilation and evacuation, that would effectively make clinical abortion unavailable for later-term abortions. Only one provider provides clinical abortions in Arkansas.

* Required notice (and effectively granted a veto power) to a woman’s partner or other family members before having an abortion.


* Required reporting to police of a young woman’s abortion (aged 14 to 16 even when no evidence of child abuse or crime is involved) “in a way that invades her and her family’s medical privacy” on top of existing extensive state reporting requirements. This law also set new burdensome requirements for disposal of fetal remains, a dilemma for early pregnancy miscarriages from pharmaceutical abortions.

* Forcing doctors to request a vast number of medical records from patients, a transparent burden on health care providers, a violation of physician-patient confidentiality and a means of delaying care.


The first three laws take effect July 30. The last takes effect Jan. 1.

Planned Parenthood of the Great Plains and the ACLU also sued over another law that adds additional regulations even for clinics such as those at Planned Parenthood that don’t provide surgical abortions but dispense drugs early in pregnancy (first eight weeks) that result in a miscarriage. The legislature has, among others, required a 48-hour waiting period; required that patients be given bogus information about the reversibility of drug-induced miscarriages, and required the presence of a doctor to dispense a pill.

From an ACLU release:

Talcott Camp, deputy director of the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project: “Arkansas politicians have passed extreme abortion bans that put their political agenda ahead of women’s health. No more. We’re fighting back.”

Rita Sklar, executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas: “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. They’ve created burdensome bureaucratic hurdles that invade patient privacy.”

Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights: “Arkansas politicians have devised new and cruel ways to rob women of their right to safe and legal abortion this year—and we’re fighting back. From essentially banning abortion in the second trimester to violating women’s privacy, these measures represent a new low. The Supreme Court made clear one year ago in Whole Woman’s Health that politicians can’t stand between women and their constitutional rights. The Center for Reproductive Rights will continue to use the full force of the law to ensure these rights are protected and respected for all women.”

More about this case can be found here:


Here’s the broader ACLU case.  Both cases have wound up in the court of Judge Kristine Baker, after some changes from initial filings reported here earlier.

These groups have sued Arkansas successfully before on efforts to limit not only abortion but family planning and health services provided by Planned Parenthood. Some of the laws challenged here have fallen to similar challenges in other states.

The broader suit names Pulaski Prosecutor Larry Jegley, as enforcer of criminal elements of the law, as defendant. The state can be expected to contest the suits vigorously.

EXPLANATORY NOTE: Media Matters coverage of how cable TV covers abortion seemed appropriate in this context.

ALSO: Jerry Cox of the anti-abortion Family Council provides his usual disingenuous spin here. If the ACLU and Planned Parenthood win, it will still be a win, he says.

UPDATE: As expected, Attornery General Leslie Rutledge presumes to speak for ALL women and against the medical community and legal precedent and even science:

“Attorney General Rutledge will continue to wholeheartedly defend laws in Arkansas that are intended to protect both mothers and their babies.”