University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Little Rock Family Planning Services v. Rutledge PB-AR-0007
Docket / Court 4:19-cv-00449 ( E.D. Ark. )
Additional Docket(s) 4:15-cv-00784-KGB  [ 15-784 ]  Eastern District of AR (U.S.)
State/Territory Arkansas
Case Type(s) Public Benefits / Government Services
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Planned Parenthood Litigation
Attorney Organization ACLU Affiliates (any)
Case Summary
COVID-19 Summary: This is an ongoing lawsuit regarding Arkansas state laws that limited abortions. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the laws were amended to include abortion restrictions instituted by an executive order banning all elective procedures issued by Arkansas's governor on April 4, 2 ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: This is an ongoing lawsuit regarding Arkansas state laws that limited abortions. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the laws were amended to include abortion restrictions instituted by an executive order banning all elective procedures issued by Arkansas's governor on April 4, 2020. The court initially granted a temporary restraining order, which blocked the bans on abortion for a two-week period. However, on appeal the Eighth Circuit overturned the decision on April 22. On April 27, the state issued a revised directive that allowed elective procedures, but only under certain conditions like mandatory testing for patients. The plaintiffs challenged the revised directive, but their request for a temporary restraining order was denied, since the new order was even less restrictive for patients and providers than the April 3 order. The case is ongoing.


Two consolidated federal lawsuits were prompted by Arkansas state laws that limited the circumstances under which a woman could seek an abortion. The plaintiffs in both cases, abortion-providing facilities in Arkansas and the doctors that worked at them, claimed that Arkansas already regulated abortion to make it safe and that these laws unnecessarily restricted access. Specifically, they alleged that the 18-week ban prevented abortion before viability, the Reason Ban was unconstitutionally vague, and the OBGYN requirement needlessly restricted the pool of available abortion providers without providing any scientific benefit to women.

The first case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas on December 15, 2018, by Planned Parenthood of Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma (PPAEO) and Little Rock Family Planning Services (LRFPS), two abortion-providing facilities, and doctors that worked at the clinics. This suit contested Arkansas laws enacted in 2015 that required abortion providers to have a signed contract with admitting privileges to a hospital and to comply with requirements listed on the final printed label of an abortion drug.

Then, on June 16, 2019, the same group of clinics and doctors filed an additional suit contesting new laws. These laws, enacted on April 24, 2019, restricted circumstances under which a woman could request an abortion after 18 weeks gestation, prevented doctors from aborting a fetus if the doctor "has knowledge" that the woman was seeking an abortion solely because the fetus had Down Syndrome (the "Reason Ban"), and barred anyone other than a board-certified obstetrician or gynecologist (OBGYN) from performing an abortion. The plaintiffs sued Arkansas under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The plaintiffs, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and private counsel, sought preliminary and permanent injunctive relief and judgments that various new Arkansas laws violated the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution. The plaintiffs claimed that the new laws in the Arkansas unconstitutionally limited access to abortion in that state.

The court consolidated the two cases in a July 5, 2019 order (2019 WL 2913505); Judge Kristine Baker presided over the consolidated matter.

Judge Baker issued a temporary restraining order in favor of the plaintiffs on July 23, 2019 (398 F.Supp.3d 330) and granted preliminary injunctive relief in favor of the plaintiffs on August 6, 2019 (397 F.Supp.3d 1213). The state immediately appealed; that appeal has been briefed and argued in the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals, but no decision has yet been rendered.

After Arkansas's Governor Asa Hutchinson signed an executive order on April 4, 2020 banning all elective abortions during the COVID-19 crisis, the plaintiffs moved to amend their complaint to include the new bans. Judge Baker issued a temporary restraining order overturning the bans for two weeks between April 14 and April 28, 2020 (2020 WL 1862830).

The defendants sought appellate review of the COVID-19 decision, asking the Eighth Circuit to block the restraining order and halt subsequent emergency relief. The appeals panel of Judges James Loken, Bobby Shepherd, and Ralph Erickson agreed to that request on April 22, 2020 (956 F.3d 1018), holding that abortions were elective, non-necessary medical procedures that should be halted in a time of medical crisis when personal protective equipment is scarce. The panel determined that because the April 3 directive was issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, even if it was “an outright ban on all pre-viability surgical abortions, it [was] not subject to constitutional challenge unless it ‘[had] no real or substantial relation to’ the public health crisis, or ‘[was], beyond all question, a plain, palpable invasion of’ a woman’s right to elective abortion.”

On April 22, the plaintiffs filed motions with the district court seeking another temporary restraining order and preliminary injunctive relief on their amended complaint. However, on April 27 the Arkansas Department of Health issued a revised directive that permitted elective surgeries under certain conditions. This directive didn't single out abortion providers or surgical abortions, so it was less restrictive than the April 3 order.

On May 1, the court denied the plaintiffs' motion to amend their complaint and directed that the amended complaint and related motions for a temporary restraining order and injunctive relief be filed as a separate action in light of the Eighth Circuit's decision denying to enjoin the less restrictive April 3 order. That same day, the plaintiffs pleadings were randomly assigned a new docket number (4:20-cv-00470) and the case was assigned to Judge Brian Stacy Miller.

On May 7, Judge Miller allowed the plaintiffs amended complaint to proceed but denied the motion for a temporary restraining order. Based on the Eighth Circuit's reasoning, Judge Miller found that the April 27 directive was much less burdensome for both abortion providers and patients than the April 3 directive because it permitted elective surgeries as long as certain precautions were taken, whereas the April 3 directive prohibited them altogether.

The case is ongoing.

Ellen Aldin - 06/20/2020


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Substantive Due Process
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief denied
Preliminary relief granted
COVID-19
Mitigation Denied
Mitigation Granted
Mitigation Requested
Defendant-type
Hospital/Health Department
Law-enforcement
General
Abortion
Medical/Mental Health
Reproductive health care (including birth control, abortion, and others)
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Non-government for profit
Non-government non-profit
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Arkansas Department of Health
Arkansas State Medical Board
Prosecuting Attorney of Pulaski County
Prosecuting Attorney of Washington County
Plaintiff Description Several for-profit and non-profit firms in Arkansas that offer medical and surgical abortions, and two physicians who work there.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Affiliates (any)
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Source of Relief Litigation
Order Duration 2019 - 2019
Filed 06/26/2019
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Little Rock Family Planning Services, et. al v. Rutledge, et. al
https://www.aclu.org/
Date: Jun. 29, 2019
By: ACLU
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
E.D. Ark.
06/08/2020
4:19-cv-00449
PB-AR-0007-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
E.D. Ark.
06/26/2019
Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief [ECF# 1]
PB-AR-0007-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Ark.
07/23/2019
Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 83] (398 F.Supp.3d 330)
PB-AR-0007-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Ark.
08/06/2019
Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 119]
PB-AR-0007-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Ark.
08/06/2019
Notice of Appeal [ECF# 120]
PB-AR-0007-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Ark.
04/13/2020
Plaintiffs' Motion for Ex Parte Temporary Restraining Order and/or Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 134 (& 134-1 to 134-18), 135]
PB-AR-0007-0010.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Ark.
04/14/2020
Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 141] (454 F.Supp.3d 821)
PB-AR-0007-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Ark.
04/14/2020
First Supplemental Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief [ECF# 142]
PB-AR-0007-0006.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Ark.
04/22/2020
Order [ECF# 154] (2020 WL 2079224)
PB-AR-0007-0007.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
U.S. Court of Appeals
04/22/2020
Untitled (956 F.3d 1018)
PB-AR-0007-0008.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
U.S. Court of Appeals
04/22/2020
Judgment [Ct. of App. ECF# 156]
PB-AR-0007-0009.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Ark.
04/22/2020
Plaintiffs' Motion for an Ex Parte Temporary Restraining Order and/or Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 164 (& 164-1, 164-2), 165]
PB-AR-0007-0011.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Ark.
05/01/2020
Plaintiffs' Motion for Ex Parte Temporary Restraining Order and/or Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 173 (& 173-1 to 173-7), 174]
PB-AR-0007-0012.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Baker, Kristine Gerhard (E.D. Ark.) show/hide docs
PB-AR-0007-0002 | PB-AR-0007-0003 | PB-AR-0007-0005 | PB-AR-0007-0007 | PB-AR-0007-9000
Erickson, Ralph R. (D.N.D., Eighth Circuit) show/hide docs
PB-AR-0007-0008 | PB-AR-0007-0009
Loken, James B. (Eighth Circuit) show/hide docs
PB-AR-0007-0008 | PB-AR-0007-0009
Shepherd, Bobby E. (W.D. Ark., Eighth Circuit) show/hide docs
PB-AR-0007-0008 | PB-AR-0007-0009
Plaintiff's Lawyers Brownstein, Bettina E. (Arkansas) show/hide docs
PB-AR-0007-0001 | PB-AR-0007-0006 | PB-AR-0007-0010 | PB-AR-0007-0011 | PB-AR-0007-0012 | PB-AR-0007-9000
Burke, Christopher P (New York) show/hide docs
PB-AR-0007-0006 | PB-AR-0007-0010 | PB-AR-0007-0011 | PB-AR-0007-0012 | PB-AR-0007-9000
Burrows, Meagan (New York) show/hide docs
PB-AR-0007-0001 | PB-AR-0007-0006 | PB-AR-0007-0010 | PB-AR-0007-0011 | PB-AR-0007-0012 | PB-AR-0007-9000
Camp, Susan Talcott (New York) show/hide docs
PB-AR-0007-0001 | PB-AR-0007-9000
Godesky, Leah (New York) show/hide docs
PB-AR-0007-0001 | PB-AR-0007-0006 | PB-AR-0007-0010 | PB-AR-0007-0011 | PB-AR-0007-0012 | PB-AR-0007-9000
Harlow, Ruth E. (New York) show/hide docs
PB-AR-0007-0006 | PB-AR-0007-0010 | PB-AR-0007-0011 | PB-AR-0007-0012 | PB-AR-0007-9000
Jackson, Rebecca R (Arkansas) show/hide docs
PB-AR-0007-0001 | PB-AR-0007-9000
Ratakonda, Maithreyi (New York) show/hide docs
PB-AR-0007-0001 | PB-AR-0007-9000
Robertson, Ashley (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-AR-0007-0006 | PB-AR-0007-0010 | PB-AR-0007-0011 | PB-AR-0007-0012 | PB-AR-0007-9000
Sandman, Jennifer (New York) show/hide docs
PB-AR-0007-9000
Scavone, Kelly M (New York) show/hide docs
PB-AR-0007-0001 | PB-AR-0007-9000
Simeone, Taylor (California) show/hide docs
PB-AR-0007-0001 | PB-AR-0007-9000
Turner, Kendall (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-AR-0007-0001 | PB-AR-0007-0006 | PB-AR-0007-0010 | PB-AR-0007-0011 | PB-AR-0007-0012 | PB-AR-0007-9000
Ware, Brooke-Augusta (Arkansas) show/hide docs
PB-AR-0007-0006 | PB-AR-0007-0010 | PB-AR-0007-0011 | PB-AR-0007-0012 | PB-AR-0007-9000
Zagayer, Maya (California) show/hide docs
PB-AR-0007-0006 | PB-AR-0007-0010 | PB-AR-0007-0011 | PB-AR-0007-0012 | PB-AR-0007-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Benafield, Julia C (Arkansas) show/hide docs
PB-AR-0007-9000
Bronni, Nicholas Jacob (Arkansas) show/hide docs
PB-AR-0007-0004 | PB-AR-0007-9000
Cantrell, Michael (Arkansas) show/hide docs
PB-AR-0007-0004 | PB-AR-0007-9000
Jacobs, Dylan L (Arkansas) show/hide docs
PB-AR-0007-0004 | PB-AR-0007-9000
Merritt, Jennifer L (Arkansas) show/hide docs
PB-AR-0007-9000
Wagner, Vincent Moore (Arkansas) show/hide docs
PB-AR-0007-0004 | PB-AR-0007-9000

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -