Four restrictions on abortion in Arkansas will no longer be blocked after a ruling announced this week. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a 2017 ruling, surprisingly citing the June Medical Services v. Russo Supreme Court decision issued earlier this year.
Previously, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights successfully challenged the restrictions on behalf of Frederick Hopkins, a Little Rock abortionist. Four specific measures were blocked, including restrictions on how to dispose of aborted babies’ remains, a ban on sex-selective abortion, a requirement to notify police and preserve some fetal tissue from abortions committed on girls under 14, and a ban on dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortion procedures.
The most common abortion procedure in the second trimester, a D&E abortion takes several days to complete, and is extraordinarily violent; the abortionist literally rips the preborn baby apart limb by limb, when the child can almost certainly feel pain. Recent research revealed that babies in the womb likely feel pain by the end of the first trimester, if not sooner.
The appeals court cited Justice John Roberts’ opinion in June Medical Services vs. Russo. Though Roberts sided with the liberal justices in declaring a Louisiana admitting privileges requirement unconstitutional, he also wrote his own opinion, in which he said the courts must give states “wide discretion” in areas of medical uncertainty. This turn of events sent shockwaves through the abortion industry, with the ACLU quick to chime in.
“This ruling is a reminder that the fight against these extreme abortion restrictions is far from won,” said Holly Dickson, interim executive director and legal director of the ACLU of Arkansas. “We are evaluating our next steps and will continue to fight to ensure these harmful and unconstitutional laws do not take effect.”
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge celebrated the court’s decision, saying, “Arkansas has taken a strong stance to protect the unborn from inhumane treatment. As Arkansas’s chief legal officer, I have always advocated for the lives of unborn children and will continue to defend our state’s legal right to protect the unborn.”
Senator Tom Cotton likewise responded favorably. “After years of obstruction and delay, Arkansas is one step closer to protecting unborn babies from the barbaric method of dismemberment abortion,” he said in a statement. “Today’s ruling moves us toward a society that respects the dignity and worth of every human being.”
Opponents have 21 days to take action before August 28th, when the ban will lift and the restrictions will officially take effect.
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