- Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels Kansas City show
- Josh Romney swipes Harry Reid with photo tweet of dad paying taxes — ‘your paycheck’
- Despite Obamacare problems, some Dems want Sebelius to run for Senate: report
- Angry New Yorkers shred gun registrations in deadline day protests
- Uninsured rate dropping faster in places that embraced pillars of Obamacare, survey shows
- Hawaii, D.C. give residents two more weeks to sign up under Obamacare
- Climate change causing fish to lose their minds, researchers say
- Great Britain tops World’s Most Sexist Nation list
- Aaron Hernandez investigated for threatening to kill prison guard
- Putin tells Merkel that Ukraine is on the brink of civil war
Lawsuit filed to block Arkansas abortion law
Liberal activists have filed a court challenge to an Arkansas law that would prohibit most abortions after 12 weeks if a fetal heartbeat could be heard.
On Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Arkansas, and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit on behalf of two abortion providers, asking the court to block the law from taking effect.
"This law is one of the most dangerous assaults on women's health that we've seen in decades," said Rita Sklar, executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas. "We may not all agree about abortion, but we can all agree that this complex and personal decision should be made by a woman, her family and her doctor — not politicians."
"The Arkansas law is one of the worst, but around the country, politicians are trying to eliminate access to abortion care and to interfere with a woman's ability to make the best decision for herself and her family," said Talcott Camp, deputy director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. "Now is the time for all of us who care about women's health in this country to tell our elected officials that we won't stand for this political intrusion into our personal and private decisions."
The Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection Act is the first "fetal heartbeat" law to be enacted in the nation. It is set to take effect in mid-July.
Arkansas lawmakers said the legislation "squares" with other state laws regarding fetal protections and should withstand court challenges.
"We believe that because we put it at 12 weeks, it will survive a court challenge. We are setting it at the end of the first trimester," Arkansas state Rep. Ann V. Clemmer, a Republican, said when the bill passed the General Assembly in early March.
The law permits abortions after 12 weeks if no fetal heartbeat is heard, in cases where pregnancies are the result of rape or incest, in medical emergencies threatening the life of the woman, and when the fetus has a "highly lethal" disorder.
The Arkansas court case is brought by Dr. Louis Jerry Edwards and Dr. Tom Tvedten and will be heard by U.S. District Judge James M. Moody in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Arkansas in Little Rock.
The law violates "over 40 years" of settled U.S. Supreme Court precedent, which says women have the right to be free from unwarranted intrusion by politicians into their decisions about whether to carry a pre-viable pregnancy to term, the complaint said.
The law denies the doctors their constitutionally guaranteed right to decide to end a pre-viability pregnancy, and causes them to face "the severe sanction of license revocation for providing abortion care starting at 12 weeks of pregnancy," adds the complaint, which seeks preliminary and permanent injunction of the law.
Dr. Joseph M. Beck and 13 other members of the Arkansas State Medical Board are named as defendants.
Pro-life supporters are not in agreement about the merits of the "heartbeat" bills. Many prefer laws that block most abortions after 20 weeks, because that is when fetuses are thought to be capable of feeling pain and is closer to "viability" gestation.
However, many pro-lifers are tired of incremental and marginal approaches — most abortions occur before 20 weeks of gestation — and are eager for the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit the abortion issue in light of scientific discoveries about fetal life and development. "They didn't have that kind of information when they decided Roe v. Wade," Rose Mimms, executive director of Arkansas Right to Life, told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
About 88 percent of abortions take place in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
Separately, elected officials in North Dakota recently enacted a law banning most abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected. This means abortions could be outlawed as early as six weeks of gestation.
A court challenge is expected on the North Dakota law as well.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Cheryl Wetzstein covers family and social issues as a national reporter for The Washington Times. She has been a reporter for three decades, working in New York City and Washington, D.C. Since joining The Washington Times in 1985, she has been a features writer, environmental and consumer affairs reporter, and assistant business editor.
Beginning in 1994, Mrs. Wetzstein worked exclusively ...
- Family, agency in custody battle over sick daughter
- Values group wins court round over use of gay marriage photo
- Gay-photo lawsuit partially dismissed
- Some gay activists fear same-sex supporters are becoming intolerant
- Perry: Restrictions, deadline make federal anti-rape prison act unworkable for Texas
Latest Blog Entries
- Gay therapy ban author seeks Calif. House seat
- Transgender 'bathroom law' gets 5,000 more signatures
- Pro-life, stem-cell bill signed into law by Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback
- N. Dakota lawmakers approve tough abortion bill
- Pope Benedict XVI's successor should allow priests to get a new title: Husband, poll finds
TWT Video Picks
By returning to Christian roots, the nation can achieve greatness once again
- Fuel-filled wings, ability to swarm: Pentagon offers glimpse at future of drone fleet
- Secret U.S. assessments show Afghanistan not ready to govern on own
- CARSON: Recovering Tocqueville's vision of American exceptionalism
- 'Culture of intimidation' seen in Nevada ranch standoff
- GOP writes legislation to deny Attorney General Eric Holder his salary
- WEBER: Obamacare cuts home healthcare for millions of seniors
- PHILLIPS: What did Harry Reid know and when did he know it?
- HURT: Wilson and Obama ... 100 years apart, but so alike
- U.S. Navy to turn seawater into jet fuel
- HHS nominee Sylvia Burwell entangled in MetLife lawsuit
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Chaos as Manhattan building explodes