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Challengers to Ark. 12-Week Abortion Ban Argue Case Should Go Forward Now

Challengers to Ark. 12-Week Abortion Ban Argue Case Should Go Forward Now

May 15, 2013 — Abortion-rights advocates on Monday argued that they should not have to wait until Arkansas begins enforcing a 12-week abortion ban (SB 134) before contesting the law's constitutionality, the AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (DeMillo, AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 5/13).

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights last month filed a lawsuit challenging the law, which bans abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy if a fetal heartbeat is detectable, with exceptions in cases of rape, incest, to save a woman's life or when the fetus has a fatal disorder.

The suit argues that the ban violates Supreme Court precedent affirming that the U.S. Constitution prohibits states from banning abortions prior to fetal viability.

The measure was enacted in March after the state Legislature overrode a veto by Gov. Mike Beebe (D), who called the legislation "blatantly unconstitutional" (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/17).

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The state has argued that ACLU and CRR lack standing to challenge the law because it does not go into effect until August.

In a response, the groups countered that health care providers -- who stand to lose their medical licenses for violating the law -- should not have to risk liability while waiting until the ban is enforced.

A hearing on the case is scheduled for Friday (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 5/13).