Federal Judge Strikes Down Arkansas's 12-Week Abortion Ban

Mar 14, 2014

File photo of Arkansas Sen. Jason Rapert, who pushed for passage of the 12 week abortion ban bill.
Credit Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A federal judge has struck down Arkansas' attempt to ban most abortions beginning 12 weeks into a woman's pregnancy, saying viability, not a heartbeat, remains the key factor in determining whether abortions should be allowed.

U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright last year had stopped enforcement of the law.

The Republican-controlled Legislature passed it over Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe's objections.

The judge made her decision final Friday. Wright said the 12-week ban undermined U.S. Supreme Court decisions that have said a fetus' ability to live outside the womb should be the controlling factor on whether abortions may occur.

She left in place a portion of the law that requires doctors to check for a fetal heartbeat and to notify the pregnant woman if one is present.