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ACLU to challenge Arkansas law banning abortion after 12 weeks
Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor
Little Rock, AR, United States (4E) – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said Wednesday it will ask the court to overturn an Arkansas legislation banning most abortions after 12 weeks into pregnancy.
Rita Sklar, director of the Arkansas Chapter of ACLU, described Act 301 of 2013 passed by the state legislature Wednesday as the “most extreme intrusion into women’s reproductive choices in the country.”
“We are going to fight back. The ACLU will challenge this dangerous and unconstitutional law in court to put this private decision back in the hands of a woman and her family,” said Elissa Berger, advocacy and policy counsel of ACLU.
The law, which takes effect in 90 days, was vetoed by Gov. Mike Beebe but the state’s House of Representatives voted 56-33 Wednesday to override him. The Senate also overrode Beebe’s veto on Tuesday.
Under the controversial law, previously Senate Bill 134 authored by Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway), a woman more than 12 weeks pregnant and seeking abortion is required to undergo abdominal ultrasound to check for a fetal heartbeat. If a heartbeat is detected, an abortion is prohibited.
Exceptions are when a pregnancy is a result of rape or incest, there is medical emergency and the fetus has abnormality that will not make it survive after birth. A doctor who performs abortion in violation of the law will be punished with the revocation of his or her medical license.
Last week, the Arkansas legislature also overrode Beebe’s veto of a law banning abortion at 20 weeks into pregnancy. The vote was 53-28. ACLU has yet to challenge the law based on a bill by Rep. Andy Mayberry (R-Hensley) pending outcome of a similar court challenge in Arizona.
Meanwhile, ACLU Indiana will challenge in court a state law requiring clinics that offer abortion pill to conduct transvaginal ultrasound on women asking for the pill, according to the chapter’s legal director, Ken Falk.