A federal judge on Tuesday issued a preliminary injunction to block a recently passed Arkansas pro-life bill that bans most abortions in the state.
U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker wrote in her decision that the law, which was set to take effect on July 28, was “categorically unconstitutional.” The bill, called the Arkansas Unborn Child Protection Act, was signed into law on March 9 by Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican.
It bans all abortions, except to save the life of the mother in a medical emergency, and does not include exceptions for rape and incest.
“Since the record at this stage of the proceedings indicates that women seeking abortions in Arkansas face an imminent threat to their constitutional rights, the court concludes that they will suffer irreparable harm without injunctive relief,” Baker wrote.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit in May challenging the measure on behalf of Little Rock Family Planning Services, a Little Rock abortion clinic, and Planned Parenthood’s Little Rock health center.
“We’re relieved that the court has blocked another cruel and harmful attempt to criminalize abortion care and intrude on Arkansans’ deeply personal medical decisions,” Holly Dickson, executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas, told the Associated Press (AP) after Baker’s decision.
Brandon Hill, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, told the news wire that the judge’s decision to block the state’s near-total abortion ban “demonstrates that the court fully understands the harmful and immediate effects this law would have on Arkansans.”
A spokeswoman for Republican Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, whose office had defended the law, told AP that the attorney will be reviewing the judge’s decision to “consider the appropriate next step to protect the life of the unborn.”
Arkansas Gov. Hutchinson previously said that the law is designed to set the stage for the U.S. Supreme Court to review the legality of abortion under Roe v. Wade.
“That was the whole design of the law. It is not constitutional under Supreme Court cases right now,” Hutchinson told CNN’s “State of the Union” on March 21. “I did prefer a rape and incest exception. I didn’t get a vote on that. And so I signed it because it is a direct challenge to Roe vs. Wade. That was the intent of it.”
The governor’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment by The Epoch Times.