AG says 'consent' provision in abortion law separate, legal


LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas attorney general filed a motion in federal court Friday arguing that the “informed consent” portion of a new state law that would outlaw most abortions after 12 weeks is constitutional and should be removed from a lawsuit challenging the ban.

Last week, attorneys for two abortion providers who are challenging Act 301 of 2013 filed a motion asking U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright to rule in their favor without a trial.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed the suit on behalf of Drs. Louis Jerry Edwards and Tom Tvedten, who provide abortion services at a Little Rock clinic.

The suit challenges the constitutionality of Act 301, which requires a woman seeking an abortion 12 weeks or later into a pregnancy to receive an abdominal ultrasound to check for a fetal heartbeat. The law prohibits the abortion if a heartbeat is detected, except in cases of rape, incest, a medical emergency or a fetal anomaly that would not allow the child to survive after birth.

A doctor found guilty of violating the act would lose his or her medical license under the law.

The judge, after a hearing in May, granted a temporary injunction that blocks implementation of Act 301 until the lawsuit is resolved.

In June, the state filed a motion asking that the judge allow the state to enforce the “informed consent” portion of the law which has not been deemed unconstitutional. The state argued the “informed consent” provision did not place a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion.

The state argued Friday in its reply to the plaintiffs’ request for summary judgment that the “implied consent” provision was actually passed “as a stand alone law” and does “not trigger the separate 12-week regulation, and does not relate to the regulation in any way.”