Federal Judge strikes down Arkansas' abortion ban

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A federal judge has struck down Arkansas' attempt to ban most abortions beginning 12 weeks into a woman's pregnancy, saying viability, not a heartbeat, remains the key factor in determining whether abortions should be allowed.

U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright last year had stopped enforcement of the law. The Republican-controlled Legislature passed it over Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe's objections. The judge made her decision final Friday.
Wright said the 12-week ban undermined U.S. Supreme Court decisions that have said a fetus' ability to live outside the womb should be the controlling factor on whether abortions may occur.She left in place a portion of the law that requires doctors to check for a fetal heartbeat and to notify the pregnant woman if one is present.
(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) NEWS RELEASE FROM ACLU: Federal Court Strikes Down Arkansas Abortion Ban

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - A federal court today struck down an Arkansas law that would ban abortion care starting at 12 weeks of pregnancy. The law was challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Arkansas, and the Center for Reproductive Rights.

The court allowed to stand provisions of the law mandating that every women seeking an abortion undergo an abdominal ultrasound exam and receive certain disclosures.

The law was passed in March 2013, when the Arkansas legislature overrode Gov. Mike Beebe's veto. The ban was set to take effect on August 16, 2013, but was preliminarily enjoined by the court.

"This ban would have inserted politicians into the deeply personal medical decisions of Arkansas women," said Rita Sklar, executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas. "We're thankful that the court took the right step in striking it down, since this dangerous ban should never have been passed in the first place."

The ruling let stand a requirement that women undergo an abdominal ultrasound, with the result that women who undergo a vaginal ultrasound will have to have two such procedures..

"Though we have concerns about these remaining provisions, we're thankful that the court struck down the most serious parts of this dangerous law, which was clearly unconstitutional and never should have been passed in the first place," said ACLU of Arkansas legal director Holly Dickson.

"This was one of the most extreme laws passed in 2013 by lawmakers dead-set on taking away a women's ability to make the best medical decision for herself and her family," said Talcott Camp, deputy director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. "We must ensure that this personal medical decision remains where it belongs: not with elected officials, but with a woman, her family, and her doctor."

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