Reprieve for Arkansas Pro-Life Laws

News: US News
by David Nussman  •  •  August 12, 2020   

Federal court gives abortion bans another chance

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. ( - After a court battle, a set of pro-life laws in Arkansas could soon take effect.

A three-judge panel in the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has asked the lower court to take a second look at several pro-life measures, which had previously been ruled unconstitutional and thus blocked by the lower court.

The laws in question include a ban on sex-selective abortions and a ban on dismemberment abortions. Now that the court has ruled in favor of the laws, they are slated to take effect Aug. 28.

Leslie Rutledge

This court ruling overturns a lower court's decision to block the pro-life legislation.

Strong Reaction

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge celebrated the court's decision.

"Arkansas has taken a strong stance to protect the unborn from inhumane treatment," Rutledge said in a statement. "As Arkansas' chief legal officer, I have always advocated for the lives of unborn children and will continue to defend our state's legal right to protect the unborn."

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) slammed the court's ruling.

Ruth Harlow, senior staff attorney in the ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Project, promised to keep fighting against the pro-life measures, saying, "All options are on the table to keep the laws blocked after Aug. 28."

Holly Dickson, ACLU of Arkansas legal director, commented, "These onerous restrictions were designed with the singular intent to take away the right to abortion and punish people for seeking care."

Arkansas has taken a strong stance to protect the unborn from inhumane treatment.

"This ruling is a reminder," Dickson continued, "that the fight against these extreme abortion restrictions is far from won. We are evaluating our next steps and will continue to fight to ensure these harmful and unconstitutional laws do not take effect."

Four Pro-Life Measures

The four measures in question were passed in Arkansas in 2017.

The Arkansas Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act, as the name suggests, protects babies in the womb from dismemberment abortion — a common method for abortions during the second trimester. The Sex Discrimination by Abortion Prohibition Act makes it illegal to have an abortion because of the unborn child's sex.

News Report: Total Commitment to Abortion

The Arkansas legislature of 2017 also passed an amendment calling for fetal remains of aborted babies to be buried, and another amendment requires abortionists to keep forensic evidence and contact law enforcement when a girl under 14 years of age obtains an abortion.

Supreme Court Ruling Cited

Though the judges on the Court of Appeals are upholding a cluster of pro-life laws, they cite as precedent a July 29 U.S. Supreme Court ruling against a different pro-life law in another state.

The Arkansas legislature of 2017 also passed an amendment calling for fetal remains of aborted babies to be buried.

Specifically, they relied on Chief Justice John Roberts' separate opinion in June Medical Services, LLC v. Russo — where Roberts sided with the liberals on the High Court and blocked a pro-life regulation. Roberts and the liberal justices shot down a pro-life law in Louisiana that would have required abortionists to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Roberts ruled against the state law on the basis of legal precedent, saying the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled against similar laws in previous cases.

Alluding to a line of reasoning in Roberts' opinion, the 8th Circuit's decision stated, "Chief Justice Roberts ... emphasized the 'wide discretion' that courts must afford to legislatures in areas of medical uncertainty."

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