NRL News

Judge rejects state’s appeal to keep pro-life law in effect while legal challenge against Arkansas law is litigated

by | Jul 23, 2018

By Dave Andrusko

Judge Kristine Baker

When last we discussed pro-abortion U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker, she had just unpacked a 148-page decision extending a preliminary injunction against Arkansas’ “Abortion-Inducing Drugs Safety Act.”

That came on July 2, exactly 32 days after the United States Supreme Court, without comment, allowed Arkansas to enforce Act 577 which requires abortion clinics providing chemical abortifacients to have a contract with another physician with admitting privileges at a local hospital who agrees to handle any complications.

Well exactly 18 days after that—last Friday—Judge Baker refused to stay her injunction. The impact of her decision is the injunction against enforcement will remain in place while the case is litigated.

Linda Satter, of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, explained

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.

However, according to Satter, Judge Baker concluded

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.

When the 8th Circuit dissolved a previous Baker injunction that kept Arkansas from enforcing the law, it said Judge Baker had failed to “make factual findings estimating the number of women burdened by the statute.”

Judge Baker insisted both in her decision Friday and on July 2 that she had provided the “factual findings” the 8th Circuit required.

Noteworthy is that in an almost exact parallel case in Missouri, Planned Parenthood Great Plains and Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri challenged a regulation issued by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services in October 2017. That DHSS regulation required that abortion providers performing chemical abortions have two Ob-Gyns on call 24/7 who have admitting privileges.

On June 12 Judge Beth Phillips ruled that Planned Parenthood affiliates had not shown that the regulation “is a substantial burden to a large fraction of women seeking a medication abortion.”

The key paragraph in her ruling found that the plaintiffs contended

that many women prefer to have medication abortions. The Court does not doubt this fact; however, for purposes of the Constitution, women are not necessarily entitled access to the procedure that they prefer. … Here, there is a safe alternative to medication abortion available to women in Columbia, and Defendants are not currently precluding RHS from providing surgical abortions in Springfield. Therefore, Plaintiffs have not established that the regulation of medication abortions presents a substantial obstacle because the Constitution protects women’s right to an abortion, not women’s right to a particular method of abortion.

Categories: Abortion Judicial