Federal judge stays application of Arkansas’ restrictive 12-week abortion ban
U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright issued an injunction against Arkansas’ recently-passed ban on abortions after 12 weeks, pending the results of a lawsuit filed by the ACLU and the Center for Reproductive Rights.
The ACLU of Arkansas’s legal director Holly Dickson said in a statement, “This law is aimed at allowing politicians to insert themselves into deeply personal and private medical care and decisions for which they should have no say.” Nancy Northup, the presdient and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in another statement, “Today’s decision ensures that the women of Arkansas will remain protected from this blatant unconstitutional assault on their health and fundamental reproductive rights.”
The law bans all abortions from the time that a fetal heartbeat can be detected on an ultrasound, which is at about 12 weeks of pregnancy, but contains exemptions for the life and health of the woman and the fetus, as well as for rape and incest, in an effort to comport with the general guidance of the Supreme Court.
The ban, which was scheduled to go into effect in August, was the end result of an session-long effort by the Arkansas legislature to put more restrictions on abortion in the state. The Senate first passed a so-called fetal heartbeat bill in January, an effort that was followed by the House passage of a 20-week abortion ban with no exceptions for the life or health of the woman just a week later. Gov. Mike Beebe (D) called that bill “unconstitutional” when he vetoed it despite exceptions inserted into a bill, and the legislature overturned his veto and passed a fetal heartbeat bill banning abortions after 12 weeks. Beebe vetoed that as well, only to see the legislature overturn his veto yet again.
A decision in the case is expected after the case itself is heard. A date for a hearing in the case has not yet been set.
[“Female Doctor With Patient” on Shutterstock]