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Federal judge blocks Arkansas abortion ban

Posted May 20, 2013 3:40 PM CDT
By Rachel M. Zahorsky

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A U.S. judge temporarily blocked an Arkansas ban on abortions at the 12th week of pregnancy, amid continued constitutional debate of the measure. The Arkansas law sets one of the strictest abortion limits in the country.

Judge Susan Webber Wright of the Federal District Court in Little Rock issued a temporary injunction May 17 that will prevent the law from taking effect on Aug. 16, and remain in place until she hears final arguments and rules on the law's constitutionality, the New York Times reports. In granting the order, the judge agreed with the challengers’ statement that “the U.S. Supreme Court has held unequivocally that a state may not ban abortion prior to viability,” according to the New York Times.

An even more restrictive law passed in North Dakota, which bans abortions at the sixth week of pregnancy, also faces opposition from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights, which challenged the Arkansas law. The groups plan to file a plea to block that law before it takes effect on Aug. 1, the Times reports.

In both states, the sharp time limits were linked by legislators to the detection of fetal heartbeats with hope that the Supreme Court might be willing to adopt a radical new framework for regulating abortion, according to the report.

Related article:

ABAJournal.com: "Ginsburg: Court should have avoided broad-based decision in Roe v. Wade"

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