Idaho’s ban on abortions performed after 20 weeks was overturned by a federal judge the same day Arkansas lawmakers overrode a veto to pass an even more restrictive law abortion rights supporters vowed to fight.
U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill in Idaho on Wednesday granted an Idaho mother’s request to strike down that state’s ban and denied a prosecutor’s request to dismiss the constitutional challenge. Winmill said the state’s law was an unconstitutional obstacle to women.
In Arkansas, a near-ban on the procedure from the 12th week of pregnancy onward was approved by legislators who overrode a veto by Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat. The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas vowed to challenge the law.
Winmill cited the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion. He also cited a 1992 decision in which the court found that while a woman’s right to an abortion isn’t absolute, states couldn’t impose an undue burden or a substantial obstacle to a woman seeking an abortion.
“The state’s clear disregard of this controlling Supreme Court precedent and its apparent determination to define viability in a manner specifically and repeatedly condemned by the Supreme Court evinces an intent to place an insurmountable obstacle in the path of women seeking non-therapeutic abortions,” Winmill wrote in the decision.
“An outright ban on abortions at or after 20 weeks’ gestation places, not just a substantial obstacle, but an absolute obstacle, in the path of women seeking such abortions,” he said.
The case is McCormack v. Hiedeman, 4:11-cv-00433, U.S. District Court, District of Idaho.