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Federal Judge Blocks Arkansas From Implementing Near Total Abortion Ban

An Obama-era federal judge blocked Arkansas on Tuesday from implementing strict legislation that would have greatly restricted abortion access in the state.

In her court order issuing a preliminary injunction against the law, U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker, appointed in 2012 by then-President Barack Obama, described the bill — set to take effect July 28 — as “categorically unconstitutional.”

If implemented, the legislation would have banned all abortions in Arkansas, including in cases of rape and incest. The only exception would have been for rare instances when the life of the mother was in danger.

Baker argued the plaintiffs — the left-leaning American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider — were “likely to succeed on the merits” of their claim that the Arkansas legislation blocks access to abortion before the age of viability outside the womb and, as such, is unconstitutional based upon precedent established by the Supreme Court.

“Defendants do not make any argument to the contrary and concede that plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits,” the judge explained. “Instead, defendants argue that [Roe v. Wade] and [Planned Parenthood v. Casey] were wrongly decided and that there is no constitutional right to abortion. As a federal district court, this Court ‘is bound by the Supreme Court’s decisions in Casey.’ Accordingly, the Act is categorically unconstitutional, and plaintiffs have demonstrated they are likely to succeed on the merits.”

“Defendants make no argument as to whether or not plaintiffs or plaintiffs’ patients will experience irreparable harm,” she continued. “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.”