Planned Parenthood’s favorite judge grants preliminary injunction blocking Arkansas’ chemical abortions law

State will appeal

By Dave Andrusko

Judge Kristine Baker

The next time abortion apologists shed crocodile tears over how expensive it is to defend pro-life laws, have them take a look at U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker.

On Monday, 30 minutes after Judge Baker’s previous restraining order against Arkansas’ “Abortion-Inducing Drugs Safety Act” expired, Judge Baker issued a preliminary injunction. This action came exactly 32 days after the United States Supreme Court, without comment, allowed Arkansas to enforce Act 577.

Undeterred, Judge Baker unloaded a 148-page decision the gist of which was she believes the plaintiff in the lawsuit, Planned Parenthood of the Great Plains, has a likelihood of succeeding on the merits of its challenge.

State Attorney General Leslie Rutledge described Baker’s decision as “extremely disappointing.” She said she plans to appeal it to the 8th Circuit which has previously ruled against Baker’s attempts to block the law (see below).

Arkansas’ law requires abortion clinics providing chemical abortifacients to have a contract with another physician with admitting privileges at a local hospital who agrees to handle any complications. Two weeks ago  Judge Baker concluded this constituted an “undue burden” on the right to obtain a chemical [“medication”] abortion.

Judge Baker’s action is merely the latest in a series of abortion-friendly rulings. In 2015 she issued a preliminary injunction against the law. In July 2017, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the injunction.

At that point, Rutledge, said, “In a unanimous opinion, the 8th Circuit recognized that the lower court incorrectly analyzed the law.”

The injunction was vacated because Planned Parenthood failed to show that the state law is a substantial obstacle, preventing most women from having access to abortion services. This common sense law will help ensure that medication abortions are conducted in a safe, responsible manner and with appropriate protections for women. While the Court did not reach a final decision on the ultimate merits, today’s decision is an important notice to the lower court that this law has important benefits for patients. I will continue to defend Act 577 as Planned Parenthood continues its challenge.

But to no one’s surprise, Planned Parenthood of the Great Plains appealed. Then, on May 29, the United States Supreme Court rejected the appeal, which allowed Arkansas to briefly enforce Act 577.

Following that Judge Baker quickly granted Planned Parenthood a 14-day temporary restraining order and when that expired, she followed up with Monday’s preliminary injunction.