A federal judge blocked three Arkansas pro-life laws late Tuesday, allowing abortion facilities to continue aborting unborn babies who have Down syndrome and who are older than 18 weeks.
U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker, an appointee of pro-abortion President Barack Obama, granted abortion advocacy groups’ request to block the state from enforcing the laws, The Hill reports.
A third law that Baker blocked could have shut down one of the last two abortion facilities in the state, Little Rock Family Planning Services, which aborts unborn babies through the second trimester.
The law requires that abortionists be board-certified OB-GYNs, but the Little Rock facility only has one part-time abortionist who qualifies.
Director Lori Williams told the judge that the law would force them to close because they would not have enough doctors to do abortions, and fewer abortions would hurt them financially, the Arkansas Times reports. Williams estimated that abortions are about 95 percent of what her facility does.
On Tuesday, Baker blocked the law, as well as two others that passed the state legislature earlier this year. One would ban abortions after 18 weeks when an unborn baby is nearly fully formed. The other would prohibit discriminatory abortions on unborn babies with Down syndrome.
The American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood also are involved in the lawsuit.
“We’re relieved that these bans and restrictions have been blocked from taking effect and we’re determined to see them struck down for good,” the ACLU of Arkansas wrote Wednesday on Twitter.
WGBH reports abortion activists argued that the laws would restrict women’s access to abortion because many would have to travel out of state if they went into effect. One abortionist who testified, Linda Prine, of New York City, even claimed that “women would die” because of the life-saving laws.
Earlier this week, state Attorney General Leslie Rutledge defended the laws and the rights of unborn babies.
“Today’s hearing is the initial step in our defense of Arkansas Laws that protect the sanctity of life for mothers and their unborn children,” she said in a statement to KATV.
The abortion groups did not challenge a fourth law that requires a 72-hour waiting period between informed consent and the abortion, according to The Hill. It goes into effect Wednesday.
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.
“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.
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. Some states are pushing the envelope by trying to ban abortions before that period.
It is unclear if the legislation will 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.
Earlier this month, LifeNews reported how another abortion facility in Arkansas, a Planned Parenthood in Fayetteville, closed because of pro-life advocates’ strong presence outside.