Arkansas Passes the Most Restrictive Abortion Law in the U.S.

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Arkansas has succeeded in passing what anti-abortion activists across the country have been tirelessly fighting for: A ban on abortion after 12 weeks of pregnancy. The law would prevent abortion weeks before the end of the first trimester, the current limitation designated in the landmark 1973 case Roe v. Wade.

But many say the law has no chance of surviving a court challenge.

"The Supreme Court was really very specific in the Roe decision. They'll get pretty quick stay on it from the federal court," says Barry Chase of Planned Parenthood of Greater Memphis. "It's truly a waste of time and money on the part of the legislature."

The Human Heartbeat Protection Act was vetoed by Democrat Governor Mike Beebe. Earlier this week, however, Beebe's veto was overridden by both the State Senate and House of Representatives. The law, which marks 12 weeks as the moment a fetal heartbeat can be heard on an ultrasound, makes exceptions for medical emergencies or in cases of incest or rape.

"It doesn't have an ice cube's chance in hell," says Rita Sklar, executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas. "It is so completely beyond the pale, a 12 week ban when Roe v. Wade and subsequent cases have consistently upheld the viability, which is at least 24 weeks. It would be a complete 180 degree turn for the Supreme Court, and we don't think they're ready to go there."

The ACLU of Arkansas, the national ACLU, and the Center for Reproductive Rights will file a joint lawsuit against the law.

"We're going to ask them to strike it down before it goes into effect because it is so unconstitutional on its face," says Sklar. "And we think there's a very good chance that will happen because it is really such a far cry from even the worst abortion decisions in the courts."

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