U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Review One of the Most Extreme Abortion Bans in the Nation

For Immediate Release

U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Review One of the Most Extreme Abortion Bans in the Nation

Arkansas’ ban on abortion at 12 weeks of pregnancy to remain permanently blocked. Order comes two months after Supreme Court agrees to review Texas’ deceptive clinic shutdown law

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court today refused to review Arkansas’ blatantly unconstitutional ban on abortion at 12 weeks of pregnancy—allowing a May 2015 ruling from an appellate court striking the measure to stand.

“Arkansas politicians cannot pick and choose which parts of the Constitution they want to uphold,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.  “The Supreme Court has never wavered in affirming that every woman has a right to safely and legally end a pregnancy in the U.S—and this extreme abortion ban was a direct affront to that right.

“We now look to the Justices to ensure Texas women are not robbed of their health, dignity, and rights under false pretenses and strike down the state’s deceptive clinic shutdown law currently under review.”    

Today’s order comes just over two months after the Supreme Court agreed to review Texas’s clinic shutdown law— a measure that has already shuttered half of the abortion providers in Texas, and is poised to leave the nation’s second-largest state with 10 or fewer abortion clinics.

The U.S. Supreme Court has consistently held—first in Roe v. Wade and again most recently in Planned Parenthood v. Casey—that women have a constitutional right to decide whether to end or continue a pregnancy and states cannot ban abortion prior to viability.   The Supreme Court refused to review a decision permanently blocking Arizona’s ban on abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy in 2013, and courts in Idaho and Georgia have also recently blocked similar pre-viability bans.  In late 2015, North Dakota asked the Supreme Court to review a similarly unconstitutional measure which bans abortion as early as six weeks of pregnancy.

“Arkansas cannot veto a woman’s decision to have an abortion, period,” said Talcott Camp, deputy director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “This personal, medical decision rests with a woman, her family, and her doctor – not politicians. We are gratified but unsurprised that the Court found nothing worthy of their review in this case.”

Arkansas’ SB 134 bans abortion at 12 weeks of pregnancy with only narrow exceptions in certain cases of rape, incest, and medical emergencies. SB 134 was enacted in March 2013—just two days after Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe vetoed the measure—when both houses in the state legislature voted to override his veto.  The Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and ACLU of Arkansas filed suit in April 2013 against the ban on behalf of two physicians who provide abortions in Little Rock. A federal district judge permanently struck down the ban in March 2014, saying the extreme measure would “prevent a woman’s constitutional right to elect to have an abortion before viability.”  The U.S Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit permanently blocked the ban in May 2015; Arkansas asked the Supreme Court to review the appellate court’s decision earlier this fall.


The Center for Reproductive Rights uses the law to advance reproductive freedom as a fundamental human right that all governments are legally obligated to protect, respect, and fulfill.

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