Entries in Arkansas (3)


Activists Will Challenge Arkansas' New Abortion Limit

Comstock/Thinkstock(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) -- Arkansas' new abortion law, the most restrictive in the nation, has incensed activists, who now plan to file a lawsuit challenging the measure.

Their challenge will come on the heels of a court victory in Idaho, where a less restrictive ban was overturned.

On Wednesday, the Republican-controlled state legislature in Arkansas overrode a veto by Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat, to enact the nation's strictest state-level abortion restriction. Under the new law, proposed as S.B. 134, abortions will be banned when women have been pregnant for 12 weeks and an abdominal ultrasound shows that the fetus has a heartbeat.

Abortion-rights groups quickly denounced the new law as an assault on reproductive rights.

"We are deeply disappointed that the Arkansas legislature voted to impose the most restrictive ban on safe and legal abortion in the country," Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said in a statement released to reporters on Wednesday, speaking through her group's political arm.

"The majority of Arkansans -- and the majority of Americans -- don't want politicians involved in a woman's personal medical decisions about her pregnancy," Richards said. "Governor Beebe rightfully vetoed this legislation and the legislature would have been wise to let the veto stand as this bill is clearly unconstitutional."

Abortion-rights groups claim that the law violates federal abortion policy, as laid out in the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case.

Under Roe v. Wade, states can ban abortion after a fetus reaches "viability" -- defined as the point when a fetus could survive outside its mother's womb. Viability is usually reached at 24 to 28 weeks.

In vetoing the bill on Monday, Gov. Beebe issued a statement that S.B.134, "blatantly contradicts the United States Constitution, as interpreted by the Supreme Court" because it would ban abortions "well before viability."

Anti-abortion activists, meanwhile, have praised the law.

"Unborn children jerk away from painful stimuli, their stress hormones increase, and they require anesthesia before any fetal surgery. With today's override of the governor's veto, Arkansas has become the eighth state to pass legislation protecting unborn children capable of feeling pain from the violence of abortion," Mary Spaulding Balch, director of state legislation for National Right to Life, said last week when the legislature first passed the bill.

The Center for Reproductive Rights announced that, along with the Arkansas American Civil Liberties Union, it would challenge the new law in federal court before it takes effect after the end of Arkansas's legislative session.

"We intend to make it equally clear that no one's constitutional rights are subject to revision by lawmakers intent on scoring political points, and that attempts such as this to turn back the clock on reproductive rights will not stand," Center for Reproductive Rights President and CEO Nancy Northrup said in a statement released Wednesday.

The new court case will follow a victory for abortion-rights advocates in Idaho, where a federal district judge overturned the state's 20-week abortion ban, finding that it violated the viability standard laid out in Roe v. Wade.

"Because it appears [the ban] was enacted with the specific purpose of placing an insurmountable obstacle in the path of women seeking an abortion after twenty weeks, but before the fetus has attained viability, the section imposing the categorical ban is unconstitutional," District Judge B. Lynn Winmill wrote in a decision on Wednesday.

Abortion opponents have succeeded in passing several state bans on abortions at 20 weeks or earlier since 2010. Since Nebraska passed a 20-week ban in 2010, nine other states have passed similar bans: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Romney Wins Arkansas, Kentucky Primaries, Outperforms Obama in Both States

Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Alex Wong/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Mitt Romney’s victories Tuesday night in Arkansas and Kentucky may have been foregone conclusions, but besides two more batches of delegates on his way to the 1,144 he needs to clinch the Republican presidential nomination, they also gave him something else -- bragging rights over President Obama.

In Kentucky, Romney, who is expected to clinch the nomination after the Texas primary on May 29, received a higher percentage of the vote in the Republican presidential primary than Obama received in the Democratic presidential primary. With 99.9 percent of precincts reporting, Romney had 67 percent of the vote, while Obama had 58 percent.  

Obama did receive more votes than Romney in Kentucky -- 119,284 to 117,599.

In Arkansas, results are still in the early stages of being counted, but with 33 percent of precincts reporting, Obama has 61.5 percent of the vote, and his Democratic challenger, John Wolfe, a lawyer from Tennessee, has 38.5 percent. Romney, comparatively, has received 69.5 percent of the vote.

Arkansas and Kentucky are not considered competitive states in the general election; ABC News rates both states as solid Republican. Nevertheless, the strong showing by “uncommitted” and a relatively unknown candidate in his own party’s primary could be viewed as an embarrassment for Obama, particularly coming on the heels of the strong performance of federal inmate Keith Judd in West Virginia’s primary earlier this month.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Arkansas, Kentucky Primaries: What to Watch For

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Arkansas and Kentucky hold their state and presidential primaries on Tuesday.

A total of 81 delegates are at stake in the GOP presidential primaries, which will undoubtedly bring Mitt Romney much closer to, although still slightly short of, the 1,144 delegates he needs to clinch the GOP nomination.  Romney currently has 992 delegates, ABC News projects.

Mathematically speaking, Romney will not be able to hit the 1,144 mark on Tuesday.  That is expected to happen next week, when Texas holds its primary on May 29. 

The races to watch on Tuesday will be the Democratic presidential primaries in Arkansas and Kentucky.

In Arkansas, John Wolfe, an attorney from Tennessee, is on the ballot against President Obama.  Obama’s approval ratings are low in Arkansas, and Wolfe could easily get a sizable percentage of the vote, potentially even pulling off a victory.  Recent polling showed Wolfe close to Obama in the state.

Arkansas is not a state that anyone expects Obama to carry in November.  ABC News rates the state as solidly Republican.  Nevertheless, losing to or just narrowly defeating a largely unknown candidate in his party’s primary would be embarrassing for the Obama campaign, particularly after federal inmate Keith Judd received 40 percent of the vote in West Virginia’s primary earlier this month.

There is no named opponent on the Democratic primary ballot in Kentucky other than Obama, but voters will have the option of checking off “uncommitted.” 

Kentucky is another state in which Obama has low approval ratings, and where no one expects him to win in the general election.  Still, a poor showing to an “uncommitted” box in an intra-party contest will hardly be uplifting for Obama.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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