Federal Appeals Court Permanently Blocks One of the Most Extreme Abortion Bans in the U.S.

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Eighth Circuit strikes down Arkansas’ ban on safe, legal abortion care as unconstitutional
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(PRESS RELEASE) The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has permanently blocked Arkansas’ ban on abortion at 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Today's decision upholds a federal district court ruling from March 2014 striking the extreme law as unconstitutional under more than four decades of U.S. Supreme Court precedent—first in Roe v. Wade and again in Planned Parenthood v. Casey—affirming that states cannot ban abortion prior to viability.

Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:

“Today’s ruling affirms that safely and legally ending a pregnancy remains a protected constitutional right in this country.

“Women should not have to run to court in state after state, year after year to protect their constitutional rights from these politically motivated attacks. The Constitution and the courts are clear: A woman’s right to decide for herself whether to continue or safely and legally end a pregnancy does not change depending on what state she happens to live in."

SB 134 in Arkansas would have banned abortion at 12 weeks of pregnancy with only narrow exceptions in cases of rape, incest, and medical emergencies. SB 134 was enacted in March 2013—just two days after Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe vetoed the measure—when both houses in the state legislature voted to override his veto.  The Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and ACLU of Arkansas filed suit in April 2013 against the ban on behalf of two physicians who provide abortions in Little Rock. A federal district judge permanently struck down the ban in March 2014, saying the extreme measure would “prevent a woman’s constitutional right to elect to have an abortion before viability.”

Harmful and unconstitutional restrictions like these further underscore the need for the federal Women's Health Protection Act (S. 217/HR. 448)—a bill that would prohibit states like North Dakota and Arkansas from imposing unconstitutional restrictions on reproductive health care providers that apply to no similar medical care, interfere with women’s personal decision making, and block access to safe and legal abortion services.​