Judge blocks Arkansas abortion regulations

Pregnancy test Credit Ernesto Andrade via Flickr CC BY ND 20 CNA 5 11 15 Ernesto Andrade via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0).

A federal judge in Arkansas on Tuesday temporarily blocked several new regulations on abortion clinics, which otherwise might have led to the closure of the state's last abortion clinic.

District Court Judge Kristine Baker of the Eastern District of Arkansas issued a 14-day injunction July 23 concluding that the laws "cause ongoing and imminent irreparable harm" to patients.

The court's ruling will allow Little Rock Family Planning Services, the abortion clinic in question, to remain open to provide medical abortions up to 10 weeks, NPR reports.

At issue are a number of abortion regulations in Arkansas, one of which is a ban on abortions after 18 weeks of pregnancy, which passed in March. Another is a law that bans abortions based solely on a Down syndrome diagnosis. The new regulations were set to go into effect July 24.

The injunction blocks the laws' enforcement while legal challenges play out in court.

A Planned Parenthood-affiliated abortion doctor from New York City testified to the court that there is "no relationship" between board certification and the ability of a physician to perform a safe abortion, according to local station KATV.

If it stands up to judicial scrutiny, the 18-week abortion ban would be one of the strictest abortion limits in the U.S. Arkansas already has a 20-week abortion ban, enacted in 2013, which has yet to be challenged in court.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchison signed a "trigger law" in February which would ban most abortions in the event the Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade court decision that recognized abortion as a constitutional right in the United States. Eight states have a law to ban abortion if Roe is overturned.

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