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New Lawsuit Takes on Four Anti-Choice Arkansas Laws

Imani Gandy

“Arkansas politicians have devised new and cruel ways to rob women of their right to safe and legal abortion this year—and we're fighting back."

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of Arkansas, and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit Tuesday on behalf of an Arkansas abortion provider challenging restrictions that impose severe burdens on a pregnant person’s constitutional right to abortion care.

The lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in Arkansas, challenges four abortion restrictions passed by the state’s GOP-held legislature, according to the complaint.

HB 1032 bans the dilation and evacuation procedure, a commonly used method for second-trimester abortions, thus making abortion care unavailable for some patients as a pregnancy progresses.

HB 1566 imposes fetal tissue disposal requirements and, according to attorneys for the plaintiff, can be interpreted to bar medication abortion and miscarriage care using medical abortion methods.

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HB 2024 makes abortion care for patients between the ages of 14 and 16 conditional on the disclosure of private medical information to local police and preservation of fetal tissue as “evidence”—even though, according to the complaint, the sexual conduct of the vast majority of patients don’t suggest abuse or other criminal conduct.

These three provisions are slated to go into effect July 30.

The fourth law, HB 1434 requires doctors to spend unnecessary time trying to obtain medical records of the pregnant patient’s “entire pregnancy history,” potentially resulting in delays that would deny that patient abortion care. That law is set to go into effect on January 1, 2018.

The lawsuit names as defendants Larry Jegley, prosecuting attorney for Pulaski County, Arkansas, along with state officials from the Arkansas State Medical Board. The suit seeks injunctive relief blocking enforcement of the four laws.

“Arkansas politicians have devised new and cruel ways to rob women of their right to safe and legal abortion this year—and we’re fighting back. From essentially banning abortion in the second trimester to violating women’s privacy, these measures represent a new low,” Nancy Northrup, president and CEO of Center for Reproductive rights said in an emailed statement.

“The Supreme Court made clear one year ago in Whole Woman’s Health that politicians can’t stand between women and their constitutional rights,” Northrup continued. “The Center for Reproductive Rights will continue to use the full force of the law to ensure these rights are protected and respected for all women.”

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