New Year Starts with a Flurry of Arguments in U.S. Abortion Cases

Some Arguments Being Livestreamed in Cases Against Harmful State Abortion Laws


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The Center for Reproductive Rights is starting off the New Year with a flurry of court arguments challenging U.S. state laws restricting abortion rights and access. In January alone, arguments have been scheduled in four cases, some with audio being livestreamed and accessible to the public.

At issue in these cases, brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights (with partners in three of the cases), are laws banning abortion in violation of Roe v. Wade, bans on abortion procedures, and TRAP laws targeting abortion care providers.

Arkansas Ban on Standard Abortion Procedure 

January 4        Eastern District Court of Arkansas

In this case, Frederick W. Hopkins, M.D., M.P.H. v. Larry Jegley, et al., the Center challenged several Arkansas abortion restrictions enacted in 2017, including a ban on the standard procedure for abortions after about 14-15 weeks. After obtaining a temporary restraining order in December 2020, the Center and its partners argued on January 4, 2021 for a preliminary injunction that would keep the laws blocked while the case proceeds. On January 5, the district court granted the request, issuing the injunction. “Today’s decision brings welcome, but temporary, relief to those seeking time-sensitive and essential abortion care in Arkansas,” said Jenny Ma, senior staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights. 

Kansas Abortion Regulatory Scheme

January 11, 9 a.m. CST*        Kansas Court of Appeals

In Hodes & Nauser MDs, P.A., et al. v. Robert Moser M.D. et. al., the Center challenges a Kansas regulatory scheme passed in 2011 that singles out abortion providers and their patients for onerous and medically unnecessary requirements, including a requirement that the physician be physically present while the patient takes medication to end a pregnancy. Despite agreeing in 2011 not to enforce the regulatory scheme, the State filed an appeal in 2019 arguing that, based on narrow exceptions added to the statute in 2015, the medication in-person requirement was no longer blocked. The State further argues that the providers lack standing to challenge the law.

Listen to the argument here. 

*The day’s cases begin at 9 a.m. CST; this case is the third on the docket.

Texas Ban on Standard Abortion Procedure

January 21, 9 a.m. CST        Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals

Texas, like Arkansas, also bans the standard procedure for abortion care after about 14-15 weeks. In Whole Woman’s Health v. Paxton, the Center is challenging the Texas ban. A three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s decision that permanently struck down the law as unconstitutional after a trial on the merits, but in a very unusual move in October, the full Circuit Court granted, on its own motion, a rehearing by the full Court.

North Carolina Pre-Viability Abortion Ban

Please note: This argument, which was originally scheduled for January 28, has been postponed to March at the request of the state. Check back for details.  

Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals

In Amy Bryant, M.D., M.S.C.R., et al. vs. Jim Woodall, et al., the Center is arguing against a longstanding North Carolina law prohibiting abortion after 20 weeks, which was amended in 2016 to further restrict the law’s already narrow health exception to permit such abortions only in extremely limited health emergencies. After a district court struck down this pre-viability ban in 2019, the State appealed to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Listen to the argument here.

Please check back for updated links and court decisions when issued on these cases.

The cases above are just a few of the dozens the Center is litigating to fight harmful state laws restricting abortion rights and access. Visit our home page and our social media sites—or sign up for email updates here—for news about our work advancing reproductive rights in the U.S. and around the world.