Two court rulings drew cheers this week from APHA and public health advocates. One blocks one of the most extreme abortion bans in the U.S. and the other requires tobacco companies to admit they designed products to be as addictive as possible.

Reproductive health win

Photo courtesy: Sarah Hina

Photo courtesy Sarah Hina, Flickr

On Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit permanently blocked Arkansas’ ban on abortion at 12 weeks of pregnancy. The decision upholds more than four decades of Supreme Court precedent affirming that states cannot ban abortion prior to viability.

In a friend-of-the-court brief submitted in the case, APHA argued that “access to the full range of reproductive health services, including abortion, is a fundamental right and integral to the health and well-being of individual women and to the broader public health.” APHA pointed out that women living in Arkansas — the second poorest state in the country — are particularly vulnerable to the loss of critical health care services.

Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement, “The Constitution and the courts are clear: A woman’s right to decide for herself whether to continue or safely and legally end a pregnancy does not change depending on what state she happens to live in.”

Victory over Big Tobacco

In a separate ruling last Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld a court order requiring tobacco companies to publish statements correcting their decades of deception.

According to the decision, the country’s three largest tobacco companies — R.J. Reynolds, Lorillard and Altria Group, the parent company of Philip Morris— must admit in public statements they designed their products to be as addictive as possible.

The statements must appear in newspaper and television advertisements, on cigarette packages and on their company websites.

The ruling is a big victory for public health after a long legal battle that was first set into motion 15 years ago.