Arguments are scheduled in federal court in Little Rock today on a challenge to a new state law placing onerous rules on abortion clinics, one of several state laws aimed at putting them out of business.
Planned Parenthood of the Great Plains, Little Rock Family Planning and the ACLU are challenging HB 1428, which singled out abortion clinics in health inspection and licensing. It’s one of what’s known as TRAP laws (targeted restrictions against abortion). Under current legal precedent, states can’t outlaw abortion, but they’ve been successful nationwide in imposing TRAP) limitations that the number of providers has shrunk dramatically. In Arkansas, Planned Parenthood provides medicinal abortions in the first nine weeks of pregnancy at clinics in Little Rock and Fayetteville and Little Rock Family Planning is the sole remaining provider of clinical abortions later in pregnancy.
As a Planned Parenthood release notes, the new law requires a license suspension or revocation for
“HB 1428 is an unjust, ideologically-motivated roadblock for abortion providers like PPGP and LRFP. Arkansas already has a heavily regulated licensing and inspection process, but this law sets up a regulatory minefield that no other health care provider in the state is forced to navigate. Despite the fact that abortion is one of the safest medical procedures with minimal complication rates, this medically-unnecessary law threatens health care access for Arkansas women who live in a state where access to safe, legal abortion is already extremely limited,” Planned Parenthood Great Plains Interim President and CEO, Aaron Samulcek said.
Rita Sklar, executive director of the Arkansas ACLU, also criticized the law:
“When clinics get shut down, women suffer. That’s why we’re fighting to block this politically-motivated attack on abortion providers and the women they serve. Using the all-too-familiar ruse of ‘protecting women,’ this law actually endangers women’s health by singling out clinics that women use and targeting them with onerous penalties and irrational requirements,”
Arguments will be before Judge Jay Moody. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, an abortion foe, has already lost rounds in abortion law challenges before Judge Kristine Baker. The hearing begins at 1:30 p.m.