Three Arkansas abortion clinics filed a lawsuit this week challenging a new law that protects unborn babies from abortions after 18 weeks of pregnancy.
The lawsuit, which the American Civil Liberties Union filed on behalf of two Planned Parenthood abortion facilities and the Little Rock Family Planning abortion clinic, argues that the law is unconstitutional because it restricts abortions prior to viability, WREG News 3 reports.
The groups also are challenging a law that requires abortionists to be board-certified OB-GYNs and another that bans discriminatory abortions that target unborn babies with Down syndrome, according to the report.
“Today, we’re challenging three plainly unconstitutional laws that would completely outlaw abortions for many Arkansans and target health providers with restrictions that would push care even further out of reach,” ACLU spokeswoman Holly Dickson said in a statement.
Unless a judge blocks the laws, Little Rock Family Planning, the only abortion facility in Arkansas that does surgical abortions through the second trimester, may have to close because it does not have a full-time certified OB-GYN on staff, according to the report.
In March, Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed the pro-life laws. Arkansas House Bill 1439, the Cherish Act, bans abortions after 18 weeks, except in cases of rape, incest or medical emergencies that threaten the mother’s life. Arkansas currently prohibits abortions after 20 weeks.
“It’s within the second trimester that states are allowed to pass restrictions on, and this, with the science we have today it seems like a very appropriate restriction,” Hutchinson said earlier this year, the AP reports.
At the time, many state residents told KFSM News 5 that they support the new law and would support even wider abortion restrictions.
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Arkansas Online reports the three pro-life laws are slated to take effect July 24 unless a judge blocks them.
The ACLU claims the laws are “medically unnecessary restrictions” on abortion that will hurt women and force them to travel hundreds of miles to abort their unborn babies.
State Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said she is reviewing the lawsuit, but she indicated that she will fight to defend unborn babies’ lives.
“As attorney general, it is my duty and honor to defend the sanctity of life and protect mothers and their unborn children,” she said in a statement.
Utah passed a similar law banning abortions after 18 weeks in March. Planned Parenthood also is challenging that law in court.
Many states have abortion bans that protect unborn children after 20 weeks of pregnancy, which is the most they are able to do considering the U.S. Supreme Court refuses to allow states to ban abortions entirely. But a few states are pushing the envelope by banning abortions before that period.
It is unclear if the legislation would be upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. The current precedent prohibits states from passing abortion restrictions prior to viability.
The U.S. Supreme Court took away the states’ ability to protect unborn babies from abortion under Roe v. Wade, and instead allowed abortion on demand through all nine months of pregnancy. Roe made the United States one of only seven countries in the world that allows elective abortions after 20 weeks.