A federal judge issued an injunction on Friday that blocks an Arkansas law to ban abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy. The temporary injunction was a response to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
The 12-week abortion ban was enacted by the state’s Republican-led Legislature. They enacted the law in March by overriding a veto from Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe, a Democrat.
US District Judge Susan Webber granted the preliminary injunction, meaning that the abortion ban, set to take effect in August, cannot be enforced while the lawsuit is pending.
The lawsuit in question was filed by the ACLU and the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of two abortion providers in Little Rock. The suit claims that the 12-week abortion ban is unconstitutional and contradicts Roe v. Wade, a landmark decision made by the Supreme Court.
Roe v. Wade legalized abortion until a fetus could survive outside the womb, generally between 22 and 24 weeks. But the Arkansas 12-week abortion ban is tied to the date when a fetal heartbeat can be detected through ultrasound. The federal judge’s preliminary injunction comes days after Arkansas attempted to have the lawsuit dismissed. Wright rejected the move to dismiss.
In her ruling from the bench, Wright stated, “The court finds that the plaintiffs have established a threat of irreparable harm to themselves and to their patients.”
The state has claimed that the ACLU and Center for Reproductive Rights don’t have the standing to challenge the ban, because it is not yet in place. However, Wright disagreed. She explained that the threat of enforcement is enough to challenge the law. In a news release on Friday, Holly Dickson, legal director of the ACLU of Arkansas, stated:
“We have asked the court to stop this dangerous law from going into effect. 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.”
Arkansas’ pending 12-week abortion ban is not the most restrictive in the country. North Dakota recently banned most abortions after six weeks.
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