Several states have seen courts delay abortion trigger laws. Nothing happening in Arkansas, however
Courts in Louisiana, Texas and Utah have temporarily blocked immediate imposition of abortion ban “trigger laws” following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning the constitutional right to an abortion.
Legal abortion ended in Arkansas last week on Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s certification that Roe had been overturned. I wrote at the time about a lawyer’s question about this. Normally, there’s a 25-day lag before such an order takes effect — a period to ask for a rehearing and for the mandate to reach the circuit court of appeals from which the case arose.
The Dallas Morning News reported, for example:
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued an advisory shortly after the Supreme Court’s ruling, stating that the trigger law on the books will go in to effect 30 days after a judgment is issued overturning Roe vs. Wade.
A judgment is typically issued at least 25 days after the opinion, meaning the state’s trigger ban will likely not take effect for more than two months.
Rutledge didn’t wait for any legal niceties.Bboth Planned Parenthood and Little Rock Family Planning ceased providing abortions rather than risk criminal prosecution. There are other complications in abortion law, as Texas illustrates.
However, Paxton said providers could be criminally liable based on pre-Roe laws that were unenforceable before the Supreme Court’s judgment, leading Texas clinics to stop providing abortions.
Marc Hearron, senior counsel for the Center for Reproductive Rights, said it was a relief that the court granted the temporary restraining order.
“This decision will allow abortion services to resume at many clinics across the state, connecting Texans to the essential health care they need,” Hearron said in a statement. Every hour that abortion is accessible in Texas is a victory.”
Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO of Whole Woman’s Health, tweeted shortly after the ruling: “We can resume abortions care in Texas.” Whole Woman’s Health has four Texas clinics, including locations in Fort Worth and McKinney.
I asked Holly Dickson of the ACLU yesterday if any legal action was planned in Arkansas in line with these legal efforts in other states. Her response:
We aren’t currently announcing any new litigation.
Realistically, the outlook is dim between the Supreme Court ruling and a state Constitution and numerous state statutes aimed at stopping abortion at six weeks, 12 weeks, 20 weeks and from conception, among other limits. (Most of these are stayed by older court rulings, which remain in effect until Rutledge gets them dismissed on strength of last week’s Supreme Court ruling.) The Constitution also contains an amendment protecting life from conception that was to take effect when Roe is overturned. Also, the Arkansas Supreme Court isn’t a friendly venue these days for abortion rights.
Our constitution has no specific protection of a right to privacy on which a defense could be raised, as has been attempted in some other states.
I like one theory dreamed up by a friend. The declaration of rights in the Arkansas Constitution says all men are created free and independent and are entitled to “pursuing their own happiness.” It says the government is created to see that people are not prevented from pursuing their own happiness. Would not the ability to avoid an unwanted pregnancy be viewed as “pursuit of happiness”? Just a theory. The legislature will decide what happiness for women means, thank you very much.
I’m also curious, too, about the “taking” of property from Planned Parenthood and the Little Rock Family Planning by putting them out of the business of providing abortion. You can’t sue the state. The Claims Commission exists to compensate people for harm done to them by the state, but the same legislature that trampled on women’s medical rights would decide whether any money could be paid to the trampled upon.
But, again see the declaration of rights about property:
All men are created equally free and independent, and have certain inherent and inalienable rights; amongst which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty; of acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and reputation; and of pursuing their own happiness. To secure these rights governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
It would be interesting to measure the sentiment of ALL the people governed in Arkansas on ending access to abortion, not just the Arkansas legislature.
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