Pro-abort Judge extends order halting enforcement of three pro-life Arkansas laws

By Dave Andrusko

Judge Kristine Baker

Watching U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker rule on abortion reminds you of a metronome. Her always-pro-abortion rulings unfold without missing a beat and with perfect uniformity.

First, the pendulum moves to the left—a temporary restraining order (usually 14 days)—then to the right—where the TRO is extended indefinitely. This allows our judicial wizard to cogitate before finally concluding with what Judge Baker had in mind all along: the law/laws is/are unconstitutional.

Fifteen days ago Judge Baker blocked three pro-life Arkansas laws from taking effect:

  • Act 619 which protects unborn babies who would be aborted solely because of a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.
  • Act 700 which requires abortion providers to be board-certified.
  • Act 493 which bans abortions starting at 18 weeks.

For reasons of her own, on July 23 Judge Baker waited until there were only three minutes and 41 seconds remaining before the laws were to take effect before issuing her temporary restraining order.

This time around—on Tuesday—Judge Baker beat the 5pm deadline before the TRO expired by five hours and 15 minutes.

On the positive side, “Within four minutes of the filing of Baker’s ruling, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s office notified the court that it will appeal the injunction, and some previous rulings in the case, to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis,” according to Linda Satter of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

According to Satter’s story, “Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Conway, who sponsored the 18-week abortion ban, advocated for all three challenged pieces of legislation and sat in on the July 22 hearing in Baker’s court, said Tuesday, ‘I’m very disappointed to see that yet again, the will of the people of Arkansas and the Arkansas Legislature is overturned by one single federal judge.’”

As NRL News Today reported on July 23, the Associated Press’s Andrew DeMillo (referring to Act 700), noted that in her 159 page opinion, Judge Baker

wrote that the restriction “provides no discernible medical benefit” to women and questioned lawmakers’ intent in passing the law, known as Act 700.

“This, coupled with the record evidence that Arkansas has enacted more than 25 laws regulating abortion access in the state, including 12 enacted in 2019 alone, gives the court pause with respect to the purpose of Act 700,” she wrote.

In oral arguments, the state of Arkansas argued that the board-certified requirement was similar to a Mississippi law that U.S. District Judge Dan Jordan upheld in March 2018.

The Associated Press’s Emily Wagster Pettus, in explaining the Mississippi decision, wrote

State attorneys said in defending the OB-GYN requirement that a physician must complete a four-year residency in obstetrics and gynecology to become board-certified or board-eligible.

Jordan wrote that because of this, he rejects opinions by plaintiffs’ experts who testified the OB-GYN requirement provided no benefit to women seeking abortions. He added, though, that the provision in the 2012 law was no stronger than what had existed in a previous law.