Judge Blocks Arkansas Fetal Heartbeat Abortion Law

A federal judge temporarily blocked an Arkansas law which would have banned abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy and subsequently give the state one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country.

U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright ordered a preliminary injunction for the Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection Act on Friday, ruling that the law, which was supposed to go in effect in August, was "more than likely unconstitutional."

Wright told the court that the law's argument that a fetus is viable after 12 weeks does not coincide with generally accepted viability of a fetus on behalf of the medical community, which is 24 weeks.

"The Supreme Court has consistently used viability as a standard with respect to any law that regulates abortion," Wright said, according to NBC News. "This act defines viability as something viability is not."

The language of the law, which was vetoed by Gov. Mike Beebe in March and then overridden by the state's legislature, states that any doctor who performs an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected and the 12 week gestation period has passed will have their medical license revoked by the state.

State Senator Jason Rapert, who authored the 12 week abortion ban, recently told The New York Times that he was "obviously disappointed" at the injunction, adding that he hopes the court will hear new arguments on behalf of conservative legal groups before making its final decision.

Jerry Cox, executive director of the Little Rock-based Family Council, previously told The Christian Post that his organization supports the Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection Act because it creates a "culture of life."

"What this bill does is it provides an opportunity for us, all of us, to create a culture of life rather than a culture of death," Cox told The Christian Post in March.

"And that's extremely important, because as a person who believes in God, as a Christian, I believe that God is all about life. So the more that we can create a culture that honors life, that affirms the sanctity of human life, then the better off we all are in all sectors of life."

Additionally, Josh Mesker, spokesman for the Family Council, told NBC News in a recent interview that although the injunction ruling was "disappointing," it was not unexpected.

Mesker told NBC that the ultimate goal is to have the Supreme Court hear the Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection Act's case, where he thinks it would prevail as a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling which legalized abortion in the U.S.

"It's not outside the realm of possibility for the current Supreme Court to readdress Roe v. Wade in a way that leans toward our position," Mesker told NBC.

As The New York Times points out, Arkansas still maintains a strict abortion law regardless of the Heartbeat Act, as it is one of 10 states to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

North Dakota also carries one of the strictest abortion laws in the country, banning the practice at the sixth week of pregnancy.

Although North Dakota's law is set to take effect in August, the American Civil Liberties Union has vowed to file a plea which would block the law.

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