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Ark. Appeals Ruling That Struck Down 12-Week Abortion Ban

Ark. Appeals Ruling That Struck Down 12-Week Abortion Ban

April 14, 2014 — Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel (D) announced Friday that he will appeal to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals a ruling that overturned a state law (Act 301) banning abortion as early as 12 weeks of pregnancy, Reuters/Chicago Tribune reports (Bose McDermott, Reuters/Chicago Tribune, 4/11).

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.

Last month, U.S. District Judge Susan Webber overturned the law, saying that the attempt to restrict abortion based on fetal heartbeat rather than on fetal viability is unconstitutional. However, Webber let stand a part of the law mandating that a woman seeking an abortion receive an ultrasound and be notified by her doctor if the fetus has a heartbeat (Women's Health Policy Report, 3/17).

Concerns Over Cost

McDaniel said he warned state Sen. Jason Rapert (R), the sponsor of the 12-week measure, about the "risks and costs associated with an appeal." In a statement, McDaniel said he agreed to pursue the appeal "as long as there would be no impact on the budget of the Arkansas State Medical Board, the defendant in this matter, should the state be required to pay attorneys' fees to the plaintiffs."

Rita Sklar, head of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, which filed the lawsuit against the measure, said the appeal is "a colossal waste of time and taxpayer money" (DeMillo, AP/Baxter Bulletin, 4/13).