ACLU of Arkansas Files Lawsuit Challenging 12-Week Abortion Ban

Apr 16, 2013

Rita Sklar, Executive Director of the ACLU of Arkansas, announced Tuesday from the state Capitol rotunda that the organization has filed a lawsuit in response to an Arkansas law banning most abortions after 12 weeks.
Credit Nathan Vandiver / KUAR

The Arkansas Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is filing a federal lawsuit challenging a new abortion law that is among the most restrictive in the country. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Dr. Louis Jerry Edwards and Dr. Tom Tvedten, who provide abortions at a Little Rock clinic.

The abortion measure was passed by the Arkansas legislature last month after both chambers voted to override Governor Mike Beebe’s veto of the law, which bans most abortions beginning at the 12th week of pregnancy.

Rita Sklar with the Arkansas ACLU says politicians are trying to take away a woman’s ability to make personal, private decisions.

“We are asking the court to block an attempt to essentially outlaw all abortions past twelve weeks, so early that a woman might not know the complete health and status of her own pregnancy. It is a clear violation of the U.S. Supreme Court rulings dating back forty years,” says Sklar. 

Jerry Cox with the Family Council, a group based in Little Rock that supports the legislation, says he’s not surprised by the lawsuit.

"That's what the ACLU always does. And it's par for the course for them to take a law that's passed by a legislative body and try to get the courts to strike it down because they don't like it. All that stuff about 'this is unconstitutional' was brought up to try to defeat the bill. The truth is that this bill does challenge the status quo, but you don't change the status quo of abortion by maintaining that status quo," says Cox.

The Arkansas law is set to take effect July 18.

North Dakota recently passed a measure banning abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy.