The Latest: Judge finds no ‘medical benefit’ in Arkansas law

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Latest on a judge temporarily blocking three new laws that would restrict abortions in Arkansas (all times local):

7 a.m.

A federal judge in Arkansas says up to two-thirds of women seeking to terminate a pregnancy in Arkansas could be denied an abortion under a new state law passed by the Legislature this year.

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker blocked three new laws late Tuesday, minutes before they were set to take effect. The ruling imposes a restraining order that will expire Aug. 6.

One law requires doctors performing abortions to be board-certified or -eligible in obstetrics and gynecology. Arkansas’ only surgical abortion clinic says such a restriction could force it to close .

Baker found that if that clinic closes and only medication abortions are available, then about 1,800 women, or 66% of all women seeking an abortion in Arkansas, would be denied.

She says the law “imposes an undue burden” on women seeking abortions and “provides no discernable medical benefit.”


12:15 a.m.

A federal judge has blocked three new abortion restrictions from taking effect in Arkansas, including a measure that opponents say would likely force the state’s only surgical abortion clinic to close.

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker granted a 14-day temporary restraining order shortly before midnight Tuesday. The 159-page order blocks the state from enforcing the new laws, including a measure prohibiting the procedure 18 weeks into a woman’s pregnancy. They also included a requirement that doctors performing abortions be board-certified or board-eligible in obstetrics and gynecology. An official with a Little Rock clinic that performs surgical abortions says it has one physician who meets that requirement, but he only works there a few days every other month.

Baker also blocked a law prohibiting doctors from performing an abortion if it’s being sought because the fetus was diagnosed with Down Syndrome.

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