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Planned Parenthood And ACLU Sue Arkansas Over 18-Week Abortion Ban

Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit Wednesday challenging Arkansas’s 18-week abortion ban and other new regulations restricting the procedure there.

As part of the challenge to the constitutionality of the ban, the groups are asking the courts to block it from going into effect on July 24 while a judge reviews the case. 

“For years, anti-abortion politicians in Arkansas have passed medically unnecessary restrictions as part of a national strategy to push abortion out of reach entirely and stigmatize reproductive health care,” Meagan Burrows, staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive dom Project, said in a statement. “We will not stand by and allow politicians to attack the health and well-being of Arkansans for their own political gain.”

Republican Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed the bill in March to ban abortions after 18 weeks of pregnancy. The previous law banned abortions after 20 weeks. The new law includes exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest and for pregnant women facing medical emergencies.

“These are issues of life that we shouldn’t just measure by economic impact and how Hollywood is going to respond to it,” Hutchinson told CNBC in May, reacting to boycotts from the film industry over the ban. 

Wednesday’s lawsuit also seeks to block laws Hutchinson signed that prohibit abortions on the basis of a Down syndrome diagnosis and allow only OB-GYNs to perform the procedure. 

“Arkansas politicians are trying to ban abortion one law at a time,” Brandon J. Hill, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, said in a statement. “Preventing qualified physicians from providing safe, legal abortion services goes against medical evidence and sound practice to push abortion out of reach for people across Arkansas.”

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (R), one of the defendants named in the lawsuit, issued a statement saying she is reviewing the lawsuit to decide the next steps.

“As Attorney General, it is my duty and honor to defend the sanctity of life and protect mothers and their unborn children,” she said. 

This is one of a few abortion lawsuits Planned Parenthood and the ACLU have filed in recent months as a wave of anti-abortion legislation has passed in several states. They’ve also filed lawsuits against Ohio’s six-week abortion ban and Alabama’s near-total abortion ban, and more are slated to come.

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