Vitals Reporting on the pro-life movement

Federal judge blocks Arkansas abortion law … again

Abortion | U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker appears determined to stop a measure to protect women and unborn babies
by Harvest Prude
Posted 7/09/18, 03:19 pm

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker has again blocked an Arkansas law that would restrict the use of abortion pills in the state.

The 2015 law requires facilities providing abortifacient pills to have a contract with a physician willing to handle complications that may arise from their use. The physician must have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

In 2016, Baker blocked the law. When Arkansas appealed to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, it overturned Baker’s injunction but agreed to keep it in place while Planned Parenthood appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The nation’s largest abortion provider said the law would effectively make chemical abortions illegal. Planned Parenthood said its two facilities in Arkansas could not find doctors and hospitals willing to sign an agreement with them.

The Supreme Court in late May rejected the appeal, allowing the Arkansas law to stand.

In response, Baker on June 18 ordered a 14-day preliminary injunction to prevent Arkansas from enforcing the law. After it expired July 2 she issued another injunction, which means Arkansas cannot penalize abortion facilities that continue to administer abortifacients without having a physician with hospital admitting privileges.

The Arkansas attorney general’s office decried the discrepancy between the 8th Circuit decision and Baker’s new ruling.

“Judge Baker’s ruling allows Planned Parenthood and Little Rock Family Planning Clinic to administer medication abortions without the necessary safety net available for women who experience emergencies and complications,” said spokeswoman Jessica Ray.

Ready or not

Every citizen in Iceland is now an organ donor by default. The new “presumed consent” policy assumes Icelanders want to donate their organs unless they specifically say otherwise. Family members also will be able to make decisions on behalf of the deceased.

Silja Dögg, a member of Iceland’s Progressive Party, said she hoped the policy would prompt families to discuss organ donation sooner rather than later: “I want to reiterate to people to discuss their position at the kitchen table at home. This can prevent people from finding themselves in a difficult situation in case of accident or illness of a relative.”

Prior to the law, only about 10 percent of Icelanders had signed up to donate their organs.

Proponents of the new system hope it will shorten wait times for lifesaving procedures. Research indicates a 20 to 30 percent increase in organ donation among so-called “presumed consent” countries such as Spain, Croatia, and Belgium.

Critics say those rates are due to other factors. Spain, for instance, places transplant coordinators in hospitals to encourage and facilitate donations.

In the United States, several policymakers have proposed presumed consent laws but with little success. “Americans get very upset when you presume something about their consent,” said Arthur Caplan, who leads the Division of Medical Ethics at New York University.

Ninety-five percent of U.S. adults support organ donation, but only 54 percent are registered donors. —Anna Johansen

Associated Press/Photo by Jorge Saenz Associated Press/Photo by Jorge Saenz Pro-lifers pray during a protest last month against a proposed law to legalize abortion in Argentina.

Landmark debate

The Argentine Senate last week began debating a bill to remove protections for the unborn in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.

Despite stiff opposition from the Roman Catholic Church and members of both parties in the National Congress, the bill passed in the lower Chamber of Deputies on June 14 by a vote of 129-125. President Mauricio Macri said he would sign the bill even though he personally disagrees with it.

The day of the Chamber of Deputies vote, protesters for and against the bill waited outside the Congress building all night, watching the debate for 22 hours on large screens. Police set up a barrier between the two groups of protesters to maintain order. When they heard the results, pro-life protesters began to weep and console one another. 

“The national constitution does not distinguish between different phases of pregnancy. It protects life from the moment of conception,” the Mario Horacio Arce of the Radical Civic Union, a centrist social-liberal political party in the country, told the BBC during the marathon protests last month.

Current Argentine law forbids abortion except in cases of rape and danger to the mother’s health. Argentina was the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage, but this bill represents the first attempt at loosening protections for unborn children in the predominantly Catholic country. 

Churches and pro-life ministries have launched social media campaigns, marches, and prayer vigils to oppose the proposed law. Pope Francis, formerly archbishop of Buenos Aires, sent a letter urging his home country not to pass the bill. Many expect the Senate, which is more conservative than the Chamber of Deputies, to vote down the measure. Senators are scheduled to vote on the bill Aug. 8. —Charissa Crotts

Summer reading

Fact-packed yet warmly written, Target Africa by Nigerian pro-life advocate Obianuju Ekeocha shows how Western elites push population control on nations that instead need clean water and improved educational opportunities. Incidentally, population control advocates Frances Kissling, Jotham Musinguzi, and Peter Singer recently called for a reignition of the “overpopulation” ideology found in Paul Ehrlich’s 1968 book, The Population Bomb. —Samantha Gobba

Harvest Prude

Harvest is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute and a reporter for WORLD.

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