A federal judge blocked three new abortion restrictions from taking effect Wednesday in Arkansas, including a measure that opponents say would likely force the state's only surgical abortion clinic to close. US District Judge Kristine Baker granted a 14-day temporary restraining order shortly before midnight Tuesday, the AP reports. The 159-page order blocks the state from enforcing the new laws, including a measure prohibiting the procedure 18 weeks into a woman's pregnancy. They also included a requirement that doctors performing abortions be board-certified or board-eligible in obstetrics and gynecology. An official with a Little Rock clinic that performs surgical abortions says it has one physician who meets that requirement, but he only works there a few days every other month.
Baker also blocked a law prohibiting doctors from performing an abortion if it's being sought because the fetus was diagnosed with Down Syndrome. The laws are being challenged by Little Rock Family Planning Services, the state's only surgical abortion clinic, and Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood only offers medication-induced abortions at its Arkansas facilities. Planned Parenthood earlier this month stopped providing medication-induced abortions at its Fayetteville facility while it looks for a new location, but is still providing the procedure at its Little Rock center. The laws are among several new restrictions approved by the majority-Republican Legislature in Arkansas this year. Another law not challenged that is taking effect Wednesday increases the waiting period before a woman can get an abortion from 48 hours to 72 hours.
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