LITTLE ROCK, AR, March 17, 2014 ( – A federal judge who became famous during the Clinton sex scandals of the 1990s has struck down part of an Arkansas law that would have restricted abortion to the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright ruled that the Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection Act “impermissibly infringes a woman's Fourteenth Amendment right to elect to terminate a pregnancy.”

The law required an abortionist to perform an ultrasound before an abortion, and forbade abortion if a fetal heartbeat could be detected. It contained exceptions for rape, incest, to save the life of the mother, and severe fetal defects.


Wright allowed to stand a provision requiring an abortionist to detect a fetal heartbeat and tell the mother if one is found. The bill's sponsor, State Sen. Jason Rapert, said he found solace knowing the state now had one of the strongest informed consent laws in the nation.

That vexed the abortion industry, which sued to prevent enforcement of the law.

Nancy Northup, the president of the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, said, “While we are pleased that the court ultimately preserved women’s fundamental right to abortion, Arkansas women are fully capable of weighing their reproductive choices carefully and responsibly in consultation with their doctors — without politicians dictating what medical procedures or information they need.”

The ACLU represented the abortionists in court.

Judge Wright said the law violated standing Supreme Court precedent, which allows state legislatures to ban abortion in the case of viability. She ruled that the defense presented “no evidence that a fetus can live outside the mother's womb at 12 weeks.”

Legislators passed the heartbeat bill last February, only to see Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat, veto it. Legislators overrode his veto by comfortable majorities in both houses.

Judge Susan Webber Wright, who was appointed to the bench by President George H.W. Bush in 1989, became a national figure presiding over Paula Jones' sexual harassment lawsuit against sitting president, Bill Clinton. She ultimately dismissed the case.

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However, the proceedings included a line of questioning about Clinton's relationship with a White House intern named Monica Lewinsky, which brought allegations of perjury and the nation's second impeachment.

With Hillary Clinton the enviable frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, her husband's sexual excapades have roared back into the news. Last month, Sen. Rand Paul exploited the Democrats' “War on Women” theme by calling on them to return any funds raised by a “predator” like President Clinton.