Attorney General Becerra Leads Multistate Amicus Brief Defending Women’s Reproductive Rights

Tuesday, January 7, 2020
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SACRAMENTO — California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today led a multistate coalition in filing an amicus brief in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of the plaintiffs in Little Rock Family Planning Services v. Leslie Rutledge, a lawsuit that seeks to protect a woman’s right to safe and legal abortion care. The multistate coalition supports the last surgical abortion clinic in Arkansas in its challenge to four state laws that would restrict women’s access to safe and legal abortion by banning abortion after 18 weeks and otherwise restricting women’s access to reproductive care. 

“We’re standing up to protect women’s reproductive rights,” said Attorney General Becerra. “No woman should be blocked from making health decisions about her body that she is entitled to under the Constitution. We will continue to fight to ensure that all women can access affordable comprehensive reproductive healthcare.”

In 2019, the Arkansas state legislature passed several laws intended to restrict access to abortion services. The laws would criminalize abortions performed after 18 weeks and impose other undue burdens on women’s constitutional right to abortion. 

On July 28, 2019, the U.S. District Court granted the plaintiff’s motion for preliminary injunction, which temporarily blocked the Arkansas laws restricting abortion care. Arkansas appealed the decision to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals shortly thereafter.

In the brief, the coalition argues that the Arkansas laws violate women’s constitutional right to choose under Roe v. Wade. The coalition further argues that limiting or eliminating women’s access to safe and legal abortion leads to worse health and socioeconomic outcomes for women. These outcomes include forcing women to endure negative pregnancy side effects, the limitation of physical activity, restriction from full-time employment, and increased reliance on publicly funded safety-net programs. The brief describes the different ways that states promote women’s health without impeding women’s rights upheld by the Constitution.

In filing today’s brief, Attorney General Becerra is joined by the Attorneys General of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

A copy of the brief is available here.

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