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A federal judge refused Friday to stay, or suspend, her July 2 injunction blocking the state from requiring abortion providers to contract with doctors with hospital privileges.

Attorneys for the state asked U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker to stay the injunction while they appealed it to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis. A stay would allow the state to enforce Section 1504(d), also known as the contracted physician requirement, of the Abortion-Inducing Drugs Safety Act of 2015.

Planned Parenthood has challenged the constitutionality of the section, saying it would effectively end medication-induced abortion in Arkansas because neither they nor Little Rock Family Planning Services, which also provides abortions, have been able to find a physician willing to contract with them as the section requires.

Even physicians who are sympathetic to women seeking an abortion face severe repercussions from their fellow practitioners, hospitals and anti-abortion groups, the abortion providers say.

Planned Parenthood's 2015 lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the section led to the injunction. In opposing the request for a stay, the provider's attorneys noted that the section has been under court scrutiny since before it could become effective Jan. 1, 2016, so allowing the injunction to remain in place would "maintain the status quo as it has been for the past 10 years."

Baker said in an order Friday that the state has not met its burden to receive a stay. Most importantly, she said, the state cannot show it is likely to succeed in defending the section's constitutionality.

"First," she said, "contrary to defendants' assertions, this Court recited and applied the correct standard to determine whether Section 1504(d) is constitutional." She noted that in her 148-page order granting the preliminary injunction she considered "whether the contract-physician requirement's benefits are substantially outweighed by the burdens it imposes on a large fraction of women seeking medication abortion in Arkansas."

She said she applied a legal standard that required her to weigh the section's benefits and burdens, and that attorneys for the state "present no argument or evidence" to demonstrate otherwise.

"Second," she said, she found that Planned Parenthood couldn't comply with the requirement, "for reasons discussed in the preliminary injunction order." She summarized several of those reasons, including testimony about a letter the abortion providers sent to every obstetrician/gynecologist in Arkansas they could find through the Arkansas Medical Society and the state Medical Board.

"Contrary to defendants' assertions," Baker said, the evidence demonstrated that Dr. Stephanie Ho, a physician at Planned Parenthood's Fayetteville clinic, and Planned Parenthood staff members "called at least 60 doctors" in their search for one who would agree to be the contract physician.

She added that "there is considerable evidence in the record that doctors are reluctant to associate with abortion providers, given the likely impact to an associating doctor's safety, job opportunities, and perceived standing in the local community."

"Third," Baker said, she has already extensively cited her reasons for crediting an expert witness for the plaintiffs over the testimony of the state's opposing expert. She found that the the plaintiffs' expert's "conclusions appear grounded in valid statistical methods and appear to be analytically sound."

The judge went on to emphasize several more points, refusing to revisit her previous findings that the section will delay abortions for some women, and denying that she ignored the state's interest in setting minimal continuity-of-care standards.

She also noted that in her injunction, she "agreed with the findings of multiple federal courts, based upon overwhelming record evidence, that medication abortions are safe."

The 8th Circuit dissolved a previous injunction that Baker had imposed to keep the state from enforcing the debated section of law. Her latest injunction followed the finding of additional facts, as directed by the appellate court.

Metro on 07/21/2018

Print Headline: Judge refuses to stay ruling on abortion; State wants to require pacts between providers, doctors


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Archived Comments

  • condoleezza
    July 21, 2018 at 9:43 a.m.

    Good to hear of a judge with common sense.

  • billg3112091102
    July 21, 2018 at 10:37 a.m.

    Medication abortions are not safe for the child. Clear violation of the 14th amendment.

  • RBear
    July 21, 2018 at 4:14 p.m.

    billg how is it a clear violation of the Fourteenth? In case you haven't kept up, SCOTUS ruled that a similar law regarding surgical abortions was deemed unconstitutional.

  • LRCrookAtty
    July 21, 2018 at 5:47 p.m.

    RBear...Did you mean to say "un"constitutional?

  • brothom
    July 22, 2018 at 6:19 a.m.

    Both sides of this issue are part of the same coin called “Wrong”. One side of the coin is the so-called Pro-Life politicians and activist groups such as AR Right To Life and Jerry Cox’s Family Counsel. On the other side of the coin are the Pro-Aborts who support Planned Parenthood and the political Left who believe that women should have the right to privacy when they murder their own children. GOD opposes both groups. One group wants their constituents to believe that they are protecting children in the womb by at least saving a few who otherwise would have been killed if not for their incrementalist and regulatory efforts, but can not prove that any lives are ever saved. They just want to look good before man so that they might get re-elected. The other groups are straight up sinners who not only thumb their noses at GOD when it comes to the sanctity of life but who also rebel against the original intent of the founders of this great nation and US Constitution. Not only does the Supreme Law of The Land, The US Constitution, provide for equal protection of all people but it also provides for due process of law for all. The Declaration of Independence clearly states that all people are created with unalienable GOD given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. All we need to do in order to stop the murder of children in the womb is to hold our representatives accountable to their oaths of office. Then and only then will these murder mills like the Little Rock Family Planning Services PA be closed and Abortionists like Tom Tvedten who has been murdering children, harming women and hurting families for decades by surgical and pharmaceutical chemical weapons of mass destruction ways be held accountable by the government. Then and only then will these chemical weapons of mass destruction like Plan B One-Step be taken off of the market for purchase by anyone with around $50 at Walmart, Walgreens, CVS Pharmacy, Target, Kroger Pharmacy, mom and pop Pharmacies and even over the internet through companies like Amazon and others. To get our politicians to act right or to get the voters to act right would take a great Spiritual Awakening in our country. I suggest we pray for Tom Tvedten and others who earn income from this evil abortion industry to get saved. GOD sent HIS Son Jesus to die for them too. When GOD saves them they will start serving GOD rather than Satan, and they will close the murder mills themselves. It’s a Spiritual War. I call on all who call themselves Christians to pray. 2 Chronicles 7:14. Forgive us LORD. Help is LORD. Have mercy on us LORD.

  • CartoonDude
    July 22, 2018 at 11:34 a.m.

    This judge should really rethink inserting her personal opinions into judicial acts. All this is going to do is more quickly push abortion rights back before the Supreme Court--today's originalist Supreme Court. By the time this case gets that far, Trump likely will have appointed a third judge who applies the constitution as written.