US federal judge blocks near total abortion ban in Arkansas

Little Rock, Arkansas – A US federal judge blocked an almost complete ban on abortion in the state of Arkansas on Tuesday.

A federal judge has ruled Arkansas' abortion ban unconstitutional (stock image).
A federal judge has ruled Arkansas' abortion ban unconstitutional (stock image).  © 123RF/wavebreakmediamicro

The Arkansas law was due to take effect on July 28, but a preliminary injunction has halted it.

Under the law, women in Arkansas would face "an imminent threat to their constitutional rights," the judge wrote in the ruling.

State Governor Asa Hutchinson signed the controversial law in March that banned terminations even in cases where the pregnancy was a result of rape or incest.

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Exceptions applied only when there was a medical emergency that threatened the life of the mother.

"Today's decision makes clear that Arkansas' abortion ban is just as unconstitutional as the bans struck down before it in states like Kentucky, Alabama, Ohio, Georgia, and Missouri, and ensures that abortion remains legal in Arkansas, as it is in all 50 states," Meagan Burrows, staff attorney at legal advocacy non-profit ACLU said in a statement.

The ACLU had campaigned against the law alongside organizations like Planned Parenthood.

Many people in the US are now looking to the country's Supreme Court. It will evaluate a law in Mississippi that bans almost all abortions from the 15th week of pregnancy. A decision is expected early next year. If the court finds the Mississippi law constitutional, it will have huge implications for abortion law in the US.

Abortion rights have been protected under the landmark Roe v. Wade decision of the Supreme Court since 1973, but former president Donald Trump's appointment of Amy Coney Barrett expanded the court's conservative majority to six of the nine seats, sparking fears the court could overturn the ruling.

Cover photo: 123RF/wavebreakmediamicro

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