POLITICS
04/16/2013 02:23 pm ET | Updated Apr 16, 2013

Arkansas 12-Week Abortion Ban Challenged In Court

The Center for Reproductive Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint in an Arkansas district court on Tuesday challenging the state's newly adopted ban on abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy. The law is one of the most extreme abortion restrictions in the country, second only to North Dakota's six-week ban on the procedure.

The Center and the ACLU argued in the complaint that the 12-week ban violates the Supreme Court decisions in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey that protect a woman's right to have an abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb.

"In violation of over 40 years of Supreme Court precedent, the Act bans abortion care starting at 12 weeks of pregnancy, threatening the rights, liberty, and well-being of Arkansas women and their families," the complaint says. "Flouting the protections of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, the Act violates the right to be free from unwarranted intrusion by politicians into matters so fundamentally affecting the course of a woman’s life as the decision whether and when to have a child, and whether or not to carry a previable pregnancy to term."

The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway), became law in early March after the Republican-controlled Arkansas legislature voted to override Gov. Mike Beebe's (D) veto. Beebe said he vetoed the bill because it "blatantly contradicts the United States Constitution, as interpreted by the Supreme Court."

The Center for Reproductive Rights and the ACLU filed the lawsuit Tuesday on behalf of two physicians at Little Rock Family Planning Services, Arkansas' only licensed abortion clinic. “No politician has the authority to vote the fundamental rights of his or her fellow citizens away,” said Stephanie Toti, senior staff attorney at the Center, in a statement on Tuesday. “We fully expect the court to immediately strike down this legislative assault on the U.S. Constitution and 40 years of Supreme Court precedent.”

Rapert and Beebe did not immediately respond to calls for comment.

Clarification: The lawsuit was filed by both the CRR and the ACLU. The story has been updated to reflect this fact.

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