The Arkansas Attorney General has asked Judge Susan Webber Wright to allow enforcement of the “informed consent” portion of what has been commonly called the Fetal Heartbeat Bill. The AG believes it is not burdensome for women to receive more information before an abortion is performed.
In March of this year, the Arkansas Legislature passed a law banning most abortions after the 12th week of pregnancy. As expected, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against it in federal court. On May 17th, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Webber Wright in Little Rock granted a preliminary injunction preventing the law from going into effect. A trial has been set for March, 2014, in federal court.
When Judge Wright issued the injunction blocking the law’s enforcement she said the ultrasound provision may not pose an undue burden on a woman’s ability to have an abortion. On May 31, attorneys with the Arkansas Attorney General asked Judge Wright to allow enforcement of the portion of the law that she said would not pose an undue burden on a woman seeking an abortion.
The AG’s office said in its filing, “The informed consent provisions of Act 301 do not have the purpose or effect of placing a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking a pre-viability abortion, and the informed consent provisions further legitimate interests of the state….The informed consent provisions are constitutional as a matter of well-settled law.”
With the trial date several months away, no one knows how Judge Wright will rule. However, she may have already tipped her hand by hinting that part of the law might be OK. Pro-lifers could end up with “half a loaf” or a maybe a few slices if Judge Wright leaves only the portion of the bill dealing with informed consent intact. She could further tip her hand if she accommodates the most recent request by the AG.