News

Campaigners will challenge 12 week abortion law in Arkansas

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f1612 (Published 12 March 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f1612
  1. Edward Davies
  1. 1New York

Various campaign groups are considering legal action against a new abortion law in Arkansas, prohibiting most abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy.

The new law, passed last week, is the most restrictive in the United States and has come in for heavy criticism. It was passed by the newly Republican controlled legislature over the veto of Governor Mike Beebe, a Democrat, who called it “blatantly unconstitutional.”

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights have both stated their intention to challenge the law in court before it is enacted in a few months’ time.

Nancy Northup, president and chief executive officer at the Center for Reproductive Rights, called the law a “legislative assault on women.”

“We intend to make it . . . clear that no one’s constitutional rights are subject to revision by lawmakers intent on scoring political points, and that attempts such as this to turn back the clock on reproductive rights will not stand,” she said.

The argument that the new law is unconstitutional comes because of the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling in the case of Roe v Wade, which held that states could restrict or ban abortion only after fetal viability. It is generally agreed that a fetus could survive outside the womb from 24 weeks at the earliest.

A law restricting abortion after 20 weeks was struck down in Idaho this week on these grounds.1

In the past decade, there has been a tightening of abortion restrictions in many states and overall, according to the Guttmacher Institute, there were 92 new provisions restricting abortion in the US in 2011.2

Notes

Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f1612

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