In Brief: Judge strikes down Arkansas abortion ban
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A federal judge Friday struck down Arkansas’ attempt to ban most abortions beginning 12 weeks into a woman’s pregnancy, saying viability, not a heartbeat, remains the key factor in determining whether abortions should be allowed.
U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright last year had stopped enforcement of the law while she reviewed it, and on Friday she declared that it was unconstitutional. She cited previous court decisions that said abortions shouldn’t be restricted until after a fetus reaches viability, which is typically at 22 to 24 weeks.
“The state presents no evidence that a fetus can live outside the mother’s womb at twelve weeks,” the judge wrote.
By adopting a ban based on a fetal heartbeat, and not the ability to survive, the Arkansas Legislature had adopted the nation’s toughest abortion law last March. Two weeks later, North Dakota lawmakers passed a bill restricting abortions at six weeks – or before some women would know they’re pregnant. That law is on hold.
In her decision Friday, Wright said only a doctor could determine viability.
Man charged in deaths at festival in Texas
AUSTIN, Texas – The man police say killed two people when he smashed his car through a barrier and into a street thronged with attendees of the South By Southwest festival has been charged with capital murder.
A district judge Friday set bail for Rashad Charjuan Owens at $3 million. He remains jailed.
The 21-year-old from Killeen, Texas, faces one capital murder charge, though more charges can be added later.
Police say an officer tried to stop Owens on suspicion of drunken driving around 12:30 a.m. Thursday, but he drove into the crowd while attempting to flee.
An Austin woman and a man from the Netherlands were killed. Twenty-three others were injured. Owens was treated for minor injuries but remained in police custody the entire time.