US District Judge Kristine Baker issued a preliminary injunction Monday that ensured pill-induced abortions can continue in Arkansas, despite the passage of a state law in 2015 that effectively bans the procedure.
Monday’s ruling came roughly 30 minutes after Baker’s previous restraining order against the law expired. The restraining order came a couple weeks after the US Supreme Court declined to hear Planned Parenthood’s challenge to the state’s medication restrictions. By not taking up the case, it allowed the law to briefly go into effect.
In 2015, lawmakers passed a bill requiring that abortion pill providers contract with doctors who have hospital-admitting privileges. It virtually banned medical abortions statewide, leaving just one clinic in all of Arkansas that could perform the surgical procedure.
“It demonstrates the court understands the irreparable harm it causes to women in Arkansas,” said Christina Mullinax, the Arkansas Organizer for Planned Parenthood of the Great Plains. “Our supporters are with us and we will continue to fight back on any future restrictions.”
Despite Baker’s ruling, some state lawmakers say they sense a paradigm shift in opinions toward abortion that means the pro-life fight will continue to gain ground.
State Representative Bob Ballinger (R – District 97) says he’s working on legislation that would outright ban all abortions in Arkansas, with the exception for when pregnancy poses a mortal threat to the mother.
“It seems like that ought to be a decision between a couple and their doctor,” Ballinger explained.
Ballinger believes the public’s disapproval of abortion continues to grow and he’s hopeful the law of the land will soon follow.
His optimism was furthered in the last few days with speculation that states will soon have more power to outlaw abortion with help from the Supreme Court. That fight is likely coming when President Trump names his choice to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.
State Attorney General Leslie Rutledge called Baker’s decision “extremely disappointing” and plans to appeal it to the 8th Circuit. The 8th Circuit has previously ruled against Baker’s attempts to block the law.