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A federal judge Friday 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 while she reviewed it, and on Friday she declared that it was unconstitutional. She cited previous court decisions that said abortions shouldn't be restricted until after a fetus can survive outside the womb.

Arkansas' Republican-dominated Legislature had wanted to shift the timeline forward — to when a heartbeat is detected — and overrode a veto by Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe to do so.

"The Supreme Court has ... stressed that it is not the proper function of the legislature or the courts to place viability at a specific point in the gestation period," Wright wrote. That decision, she said, belongs to a doctor.

"The state presents no evidence that a fetus can live outside the mother's womb at twelve weeks," the judge wrote.

Wright 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.

The measure had included exemptions for rape, incest, the life of the mother and highly lethal fetal disorders.

Read Saturday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for more details.

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Archived Comments

  • Dontcallmenames
    March 14, 2014 at 5:04 p.m.

    What a joke! ONE person overturning the will of the people and what our elected officials passed as a law. ONE person!

  • StrayGoose70
    March 14, 2014 at 5:14 p.m.

    Baby Killer!

  • RP57
    March 14, 2014 at 5:24 p.m.

    It was a doomed law from the start and our elected Governor tried to veto it. Overriding his veto was purely partisan politics. The ledge deserve every bit of egg they have on their face.

  • SPA
    March 14, 2014 at 5:27 p.m.

    Thank God that wisdom has prevailed. Stop the march of the American Taliban in Arkansas!

  • nwar
    March 14, 2014 at 5:28 p.m.

    The "will of the people" gets overturned when it infringes on the rights of individuals. The GOP knew this when they passed their stupid bill. They also knew that they would spend a fortune in Arkansas taxpayer's money to defend their clearly unconstitutional bill. It is nice that the judge doesn't let you guys impose your religious views on everyone else.

  • edo1962
    March 14, 2014 at 5:29 p.m.

    Susan Weber Wright gets it wrong. One person should not overturn what our voted In Legislators as a group passed. At Conception it is God Made already.

  • DKBerry
    March 14, 2014 at 5:39 p.m.

    The state presents no evidence that a fetus can live outside the mother's womb at twelve weeks," the judge wrote.

    I think that's the point. If there is a heart beat ... then an abortion kills the child. How ludicrous of the judge to think the state needed to provide evidence that the child could live outside the womb at that point. The point was the child was alive at 12 weeks as evidenced by the heart beat ... and an abortion at this point could constitute murder if it was performed when the mother was not at health risk.

  • nwar
    March 14, 2014 at 6:04 p.m.

    Lot' of living things have heart beats. A fetus is NOT a child at that stage. And if your religion says it is, fine, don't have an abortion. Otherwise, leave everyone ese alone.

  • NoUserName
    March 14, 2014 at 6:25 p.m.

    Such a vast lack of knowledge of the law shown by some posters here. Case in point:
    .
    "How ludicrous of the judge to think the state needed to provide evidence that the child could live outside the womb at that point. "
    .
    The Supreme Court determined that one had a right to an abortion up to viability. Therefore, the state HAD to prove a fetus was viable @ 12 weeks under already established law.
    .
    Now, the whole point of this is to get abortion in front of the Supreme Court again. So, I get it. But another state had already passed this law. Therefore, AR should not have wasted taxpayer dollars on something that was already headed to the SC.

  • DKBerry
    March 14, 2014 at 9:02 p.m.

    Nwar and No Name --- Feel sorry for you both.

    " A fetus is NOT a child at that stage"

    At that stage the child would survive if allowed to go to term. So you figure since the baby would die if it just happened to be outside the womb its okay to kill it by injecting it and turning it to jelly and sucking it out ... or spinning it with a beater? Sounds like murder to me.

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