ACLU Files Lawsuit Challenging Arkansas Law Barring Abortions When Heartbeat Detected
Little Rock, Arkansas – The ACLU of Arkansas has filed a lawsuit on behalf of two abortionists in the state in an effort to overturn a new law that bans abortions past twelve weeks when a heartbeat is detected.
As previously reported, legislators in the state voted to override Governor Mike Beebe’s veto of the Human Heartbeat Protection Act last month, setting it up to become Arkansas law. The Act requires that women obtain an ultrasound prior to having an abortion, and if a heartbeat is detected past twelve weeks, the abortion may not proceed. Abortionists who violate the law may have their license revoked.
Following the vote, the ACLU of Arkansas threatened to file a lawsuit, and on Tuesday, it followed through with the threat. It sued the state medical board, asking the court to act quickly to prevent “irreparable harm” to abortionists and abortion-minded mothers.
“In violation of over forty years of settled United States 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 suit states. “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 lawsuit was filed on behalf of abortionists Louis Jerry Edwards and Tom Tvedten, who work at Little Rock Family Planning Clinic in the state capital. The men assert that 20 percent of abortions occur after 12 weeks.
“The Act will prohibit most of these post-12 week, previability abortions. Absent an injunction, plaintiffs will have no choice but to turn away patients in need of abortion care,” the legal challenge continues. “The constitutional rights of Arkansas women would suffer irreparably, as would their well-being and dignity.”
Edwards and Tvedten are seeking a federal injunction, as well as declaratory judgment that the statute is unconstitutional.
However, Jerry Cox, the president of Family Council, said that the lawsuit came as no surprise.
“This is what groups like the ACLU do. They try to thwart the will of the people by asking the courts to strike down good laws,” he stated. “The ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and other pro-choice organizations have opposed virtually every pro-life bill introduced in the Arkansas legislature over the past twenty-five years. I’m not surprised they are against this one too.”
Cox stated that the lives of children are worth fighting for — no matter what the cost.
“If the State of Arkansas ends up spending public funds to defend a law that protects human life, that’s an excellent use of our public dollars,” he said. “The fact that the ACLU or any other group threatens a lawsuit should never deter the Arkansas Legislature from doing what is right. Thankfully the Arkansas legislature did the right thing by passing this good law. Now it’s up to the courts to do the right thing as well by upholding it.”
Legislators in the state of North Dakota passed a similar bill last month as well.