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Judges cite Roberts opinion to allow Arkansas abortion restrictions to resume

Judges cite Roberts opinion to allow Arkansas abortion restrictions to resume
© Greg Nash

A federal appeals court in Arkansas on Friday struck down a lower court's block of the state abortion laws, citing Chief Justice John Roberts opinion in the Supreme Court's June case in which the court rejected Louisiana's restrictive abortion laws.

In their ruling, a trio of judges on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals said that their decision to allow some of Arkansas' restrictions on abortions to return stemmed from "Chief Justice Roberts's separate opinion in June Medical."

While Roberts sided with the court's liberal justices in the 5-4 decision, he wrote his own concurring opinion, saying that his vote was guided by adherence to prior rulings.

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“The legal doctrine of stare decisis requires us, absent special circumstances, to treat like cases alike,” Roberts wrote. “The Louisiana law imposes a burden on access to abortion just as severe as that imposed by the Texas law, for the same reasons. Therefore Louisiana’s law cannot stand under our precedents.”

The Arkansas judges noted that Roberts in his opinion held that "state and federal legislatures [have] wide discretion to pass legislation in areas where there is medical and scientific uncertainty" in keeping with that decision.

The laws that had been blocked by a district will go back into effect in 21 days, Aug. 28. Among the laws are a restriction on the most frequent procedure used in second-trimester abortions and a measure that allows the husband of a woman having an abortion to sue the doctor to stop the abortion.