Judge: Pro-life group cannot intervene in abortion lawsuit


LITTLE ROCK — A crisis pregnancy center and counseling service in Wynne cannot intervene in a federal lawsuit challenging a new law banning most abortions at 12 weeks, a judge ruled Thursday.

Concepts of Truth Inc. cannot become an intervenor in the lawsuit by Little Rock doctors Louis Jerry Edwards and Tom Tvedten challenging the constitutionality of Act 301 of 2013, but it can file a friend-of-the-court brief in the case, U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright ruled.

The judge said Concepts of Truth had not shown that it had standing in the case; that it had a recognizable, protected interest in the subject matter of the case; that it might be damaged by the outcome of the case; or that its interests were not being adequately represented by the state attorney general’s office, which is defending the law in court.

“Finally, the court finds that Concepts’ participation in this case would increase litigation costs and delay final resolution of the dispute, without counterbalancing benefits,” Wright wrote.

The ruling came about three weeks after Wright issued a preliminary injunction blocking implementation of the law, which was scheduled to take effect in August. A trial has been set for March 17.

Act 301 requires a woman seeking an abortion at 12 weeks or later into a pregnancy to receive an abdominal ultrasound to check for a fetal heartbeat. If a heartbeat is detected, the law prohibits an abortion from being performed except in cases of rape, incest, medical emergencies endangering the life of the mother or fetal anomalies that would not allow the child to live after birth.

The lawsuit alleges that the law violates established case law. The U.S. Supreme Court has said states cannot ban abortions before a fetus becomes viable, or able to survive outside the womb, which doctors generally consider to occur about 23 or 24 weeks into a pregnancy.

The doctors are being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights.