Little Rock, Ark. – An Arkansas law banning most abortions 12 weeks into a woman’s pregnancy won’t take effect while a legal challenge is pending, a federal judge ruled Friday.
U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright granted a request for a preliminary injunction against the ban, which was set to take effect in August.
The state’s Republican-led Legislature overrode a veto from Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe to enact the law in March. Weeks later, attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas and the Center for Reproductive Rights sued the state on behalf of two Little Rock abortion providers and sought an injunction to block the ban’s enforcement.
Those groups also want Wright to block the law permanently, saying it’s unconstitutional and clearly contradicts the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion until a fetus could viably survive outside the womb. A fetus is generally considered viable at 22 to 24 weeks.
Wright didn’t decide Friday whether Arkansas’ ban was constitutional; she is expected to do that sometime in the future. Her decision Friday was merely a temporary one: It means the law can’t be enforced while the lawsuit is pending.
Bombing suspect’s indictment delayed
Boston – Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev won’t be indicted within the 30-day period prescribed under the Federal Speedy Trial Act but prosecutors said Friday they would ask for more time.
Sunday marks 30 days since Tsarnaev was arrested following the April 15 twin bombing that killed three people and injured more than 260.
U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz’s office did not specify the exception under which they would seek more time but those available to prosecutors include delays related to the defendant’s physical capacity. Tsarnaev remains in a prison hospital after being badly wounded in a gunbattle with police before his arrest.
Earlier Friday, a judge denied a request from Tsarnaev’s attorneys that they be allowed to take periodic photos of the 19-year-old to document “his evolving mental and physical state” and whether his statements to authorities after his arrest were made voluntarily.