July 14, 2014 — The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas and the Center for Reproductive Rights on Thursday urged a federal appeals court to uphold a lower court ruling that struck down an Arkansas law (Act 301) that banned abortion at 12 weeks, arguing that it violates U.S. Supreme Court precedent, the Fort Smith Times-Record reports (Lyon, Fort Smith Times-Record, 7/10).
The law prohibits abortions after 12 weeks if a fetal heartbeat is detectable, with exceptions in cases of rape, incest, to save a woman's life or when the fetus has a fatal disorder.
A federal judge overturned the law earlier this year, ruling that restricting abortion based on fetal heartbeat rather than on fetal viability is unconstitutional. In May, Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel (D) asked the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn the ruling and uphold the law, arguing that it protects women, fetuses and medical professionals (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/29).
Plaintiffs Urge Court To Reject Appeal
In a brief filed Thursday, ACLU of Arkansas and CRR -- who are challenging the law on behalf of two abortion providers in Little Rock -- asked the court to reject McDaniel's appeal, arguing that the state is trying to overturn court precedent by defending the law.
The brief states, "For more than 40 years, the Supreme Court has repeatedly held that, before viability, states lack the power to ban abortion and wrest from a woman the ultimate decision of whether to continue a pregnancy -- regardless of the particular interests asserted by the state, and regardless of whether the state includes exceptions to the ban."
It adds, "This court does not have the authority to overturn this precedent, and the state's arguments to the contrary should be roundly rejected" (AP/Arkansas Business, 7/10).