In a ruling issued shortly before midnight on Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Kristine Baker granted a 14-day restraining order to temporarily block three abortion restrictions from taking effect in Arkansas on Wednesday. One ban was a requirement that doctors performing abortions in the state be board-certified or board-eligible in obstetrics and gynecology, a restriction that Little Rock Family Planning Services said would have caused the only surgical abortion provider in the state to likely close.
“The enforcement of this act would be harmful to patient care,” Dr. Linda Prine, an abortion provider in New York, said in her testimony at Monday’s hearing. “Women would die because of this law.”
Attorneys representing Planned Parenthood and Little Rock Family Planning Services also argued against two other restrictions. One would have banned abortion after 18 weeks, and the other would prevent women from obtaining an abortion solely because the fetus received a Down syndrome diagnosis.
In her ruling temporarily blocking the restrictions, Baker writes that the evidence presented during the hearing indicates that the three restrictions would cause “ongoing and irreparable harm” to Planned Parenthood and Little Rock Family Planning, as well as the providers’ patients. Baker also writes that the OBGYN requirement restriction “imposes an undue burden on the right of women in Arkansas to seek an abortion,” adding that “Arkansas women seeking abortions face an imminent threat to their constitutional rights.”
To read the ruling in its entirety, click here.
“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, in a press release.
As the defendants in the hearing, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge also released a statement on behalf of the state about the temporary restraining order, saying the hearing was “only the initial step” in enacting the abortion restrictions and that she anticipates “further action in the near future in our defense of these laws that protect the life of mothers and their unborn children.”