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Federal judges block Arkansas abortion laws, pending further decisions

Federal judges have upheld injunctions or imposed new injunctions against multiple Arkansas prolife laws, including bans on late-term abortion and bans on abortions that target a child with Down syndrome or because of his or her sex.

The panel upheld the injunctions against two laws on the grounds that they would create a legal barrier to abortion before the viability of the unborn child, about 24 weeks into pregnancy.

The first law bans abortions after 18 weeks of pregnancy, except in cases of rape, incest, and medical emergency. They would require doctors who perform abortions to be board-certified or eligible in obstetrics and gynecology.
The other law would prohibit abortions based solely on a Down syndrome diagnosis for the baby.

The new regulations had been set to go into effect July 2019 before injunctions blocked them.

The appellate court said the constitutionality of the statute is “obviously subject to change in the future” but “well established in this circuit today.” The court said Jan. 6 that no evidence was presented that viability had moved to 18 weeks, and there was “undisputed evidence” that post-viability abortions are not performed in Arkansas.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge criticized the ruling.

“Following the 8th Circuit’s decision against Arkansas’ late-term abortion ban and Down-syndrome-selection ban, I plan to seek further review of this decision in order to uphold Arkansas’s laws which protect the lives of the unborn and the health of the mothers,” she said.

Rutledge sees the laws as a means to overturn pro-abortion rights precedents like the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision.

“The Supreme Court must limit and ultimately overturn Casey and I plan to do everything in my power to see that they do,” she said, according to source.

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