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Groups file lawsuits to block 5 Arkansas abortion laws

by Emma Pettit | June 20, 2017 at 1:24 p.m.

Abortion-rights advocacy groups filed two lawsuits Tuesday against five Arkansas laws that they say would heavily restrict or outright ban the procedure in the state.

One suit was brought by the national American Civil Liberties Union as well as the Arkansas chapter and the Center for Reproductive Rights, according to a news release.

The groups argue that newly passed Acts 45, 603, 1018 and 733 would impose "severe and unwarranted burdens" on women's right to seek abortion care, according to ACLU Arkansas' website.

The bills were voted into law during the 2017 legislative session.

Act 45 enacts restrictions on a common procedure for second-trimester abortions. Both Acts 603 and 1018 created rules regarding fetal tissue. The final law, 733, banned doctors from performing abortions based solely on sex discrimination.

The first three acts will go into effect July 30, the release said. The fourth will take effect Jan. 1, 2018.

A separate lawsuit against a different Arkansas abortion law was challenged Tuesday in a lawsuit brought by the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, the news release said. The statement did not identify the law by name or number.

The advocacy groups believe the new legislation will ban a "safe and medically proven abortion method" and will make abortion care totally unavailable for some women, the release said.

One of the laws also requires a woman's partner to be notified, allowing that person to block her abortion, the release said.

Another one of the laws will force doctors to request a large number of medical records in an attempt to burden abortion providers, the release said.

“Instead of protecting women’s health, Arkansas politicians have passed laws that defy decency and reason just to make it difficult or impossible for a woman to get an abortion," said ACLU of Arkansas Executive Director Rita Sklar in a statement.

The case was brought on behalf of a physician who serves women, including low-income women, at one of two abortion clinics in Arkansas, the website said. Listed as defendants on the complaint are the state Medical Board and Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley.

Jerry Cox, president of the conservative, pro-life group Family Council, said in a statement that the lawsuits "are almost unbelievable."

"The ACLU is challenging laws designed to do things like help protect underage girls and ensure doctors know a woman’s medical history before performing an abortion," he stated.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's office was not immediately available for comment.

Read Wednesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.


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