Abortion activists are celebrating two major victories in Alabama and Arkansas after federal judges blocked a series of laws on Friday that would place an undue burden on women seeking abortions.
In Arkansas, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction on four laws, three of which would have gone into effect on Tuesday, in a case filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of Little Rock abortion provider Dr. Frederick Hopkins. The laws ban a common second-trimester abortion procedure known as dilation and evacuation; impose restrictions regarding the fetal remains that could allow a woman’s sexual partner or even her rapist, to effectively block her abortion; expand requirements around reporting a minor’s abortion to law enforcement; and require providers to obtain records of a woman’s entire history of pregnancy.
“The threatened harm to Dr. Hopkins and the fraction of women for whom the mandate is relevant clearly outweighs whatever damage or harm a proposed injunction may cause the State of Arkansas,” wrote US District Court Judge Kristine Baker in her ruling.
On the same day, the ACLU won a case in Alabama after U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Russ Walker blocked a 2014 parental consent law that required the state to appoint a lawyer to represent any fetus being carried by a minor in cases where a minor sought a judicial bypass to obtain an abortion. The law also allowed a minor’s parents or legal guardian to appeal the bypass, thereby potentially delaying the procedure until the minor could no longer access an abortion.
“By undermining their confidentiality, this law put teenagers participating in the judicial bypass process in real danger,” said ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project senior staff attorney Andrew Beck in a press release. “It’s great when teens can turn to their parents if they have an unintended pregnancy. But that ideal is not always the reality. This law exposed teens to the risk of abuse or harm. When a young woman decides to end her pregnancy, she should be able to do so with compassion and respect, without cruel barriers that shame her and put her in harm’s way.”