Antiabortion Group May Not Help Defend Ark. 12-Week Abortion Ban in Court, Judge Rules

June 10, 2013 — A federal judge on Thursday ruled that an antiabortion-rights counseling group cannot intervene in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a state law (Act 301) that bans most abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy, the AP/KNOE reports (AP/KNOE, 6/6).

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights last month filed the suit on behalf of two doctors. 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 (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/20).

The case is scheduled to go to trial on March 17, 2014. In the meantime, U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright has issued a temporary injunction that prevents Arkansas from enforcing the law.

Group's Request To Join Suit

In a court filing, the antiabortion-rights group Concepts of Truth said it should be allowed to defend the law because the group was "instrumental in lobbying for and enlisting public support for Act 301."

In her decision, Webber Wright said that the case's outcome would have no effect on Concepts of Truth's ability to conduct business, which would be necessary for the group to have standing in the case.

Wright also noted that the group's participation in the case "would increase litigation costs and delay final resolution of the dispute, without counterbalancing benefits." The group may file a friend-of-the-court brief if it wishes, she said (Newell Peacock, "Arkansas Blog," Arkansas Times, 6/6).