Groups ask judge to block Arkansas' near-total abortion ban

·2 min read

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Abortion rights supporters asked a federal judge on Monday to prevent Arkansas’ near-total ban on the procedure from taking effect while the groups challenge its constitutionality.

The American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood asked the judge to issue a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction against the ban, which is set to take effect July 28. The groups filed a lawsuit last month challenging the ban, which prohibits abortions except those to save the life of the mother.

The groups filed the lawsuit on behalf of Little Rock Family Planning Services, a Little Rock abortion clinic, and Planned Parenthood’s Little Rock health center. The groups are also representing a doctor who works at the Planned Parenthood clinic.

“Absent an order from this Court, (the ban) will inflict on plaintiffs’ patients significant and irreparable harm for which there is no adequate remedy at law," the filing Monday said.

Amanda Priest, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, said the groups' motion “should not come as a surprise to anyone."

“Attorney General Rutledge will be reviewing the latest action and will proceed," she said.

The U.S. Supreme Court last month agreed to take up a case on whether states can ban abortions before a fetus can survive outside the womb, a showdown that could dramatically alter nearly 50 years of rulings on the procedure.

That case, which focuses on a Mississippi law banning abortion 15 weeks into a woman’s pregnancy, probably will be argued in the fall, with a decision likely in the spring of 2022.

Republican lawmakers in Arkansas and several other states enacted new abortion bans even before that case was announced, encouraged by former President Donald Trump’s appointments to the high court.

In the filing, the groups called the outright ban “simply the latest and most blatant effort in Arkansas' long-running campaign to eliminate legal abortion in the state."

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