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Federal Appeals Court Continues Hold on Arkansas Laws Restricting Abortion

Abortion demonstrators are seen in this illustration photo. (Photo: CNS/Karen Pulfer Focht, Reuters)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (CNS) — A federal appeals court reaffirmed a hold on an Arkansas law that bans abortions 18 weeks into pregnancy and another banning an abortion from being performed when a fetus is detected to have Down syndrome.

The Jan. 5 ruling from a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals keeps in place a federal judge’s 2019 ruling that temporarily blocked the state from enforcing the law.

The court said the Arkansas statutes are governed under established case law that restricts undue burdens on women to seek an abortion. Its decision cited outcomes of previous cases including those settled by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The court decision came in a case filed by Little Rock Family Planning Services, which earlier argued that the law would likely force its closure.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has defended the laws in court. She said she planned to seek further review of the decision.

“The Supreme Court must limit and ultimately overturn Casey and I plan to do everything in my power to see that they do,” Rutledge said in a statement referring to the Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision in 1992 that prohibited regulations that created an “undue burden” on women seeking an abortion.

Bishop Anthony B. Taylor of Little Rock had no immediate reaction to the ruling.

Holly Dickson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, welcomed the decision, The Associated Press reported.

The appeals court dismissed part of case challenging Baker’s ruling blocking the law’s requirement that doctors performing abortions are board-certified or board-eligible in obstetrics and gynecology. The family planning agency said that part of the case was moot because it had since hired a doctor that met the requirements.

The Arkansas Legislature was set to convene in mid-January and lawmakers were expected to consider new abortion ban bills.

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