Arkansas to appeal decision striking 12-week abortion ban

Posted: April 11, 2014 at 11:56 a.m.
Updated: April 11, 2014 at 12:56 p.m.

State Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Bigelow, says Friday, April 11, 2014, at the Arkansas Capitol in Little Rock that the state will appeal a federal judge's decision to strike down part of a law that banned most abortions after 12 weeks.

The state of Arkansas will appeal a federal judge's decision to strike down part of a law that banned most abortions at or after 12 weeks.

State Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Bigelow, said at a news conference Friday at the state Capitol that Attorney General Dustin McDaniel told him a notice of appeal would be filed by the end of the day.

The notice of appeal to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was filed a short time after the news conference ended, online court records show, and McDaniel confirmed the filing in a subsequent news release.

“I have spoken candidly with Sen. Rapert about the risks and costs associated with an appeal," McDaniel said in the statement.

"Sen. Rapert has specifically asked me to appeal. I agreed to do so 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. I have been personally assured by Senate President Pro Tempore-designate [Jonathan] Dismang and House Speaker-designate [Jeremy] Gillam that the Medical Board budget will not be affected, and that any costs borne from this litigation will be paid through a separate appropriation."

He added the attorney general's office will "diligently litigate this matter to its conclusion."

U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright last month struck down the part of Act 301 of 2013 that outlaws most abortions at or after 12 weeks but left intact other parts of the law requiring abortion candidates to have an abdominal ultrasound and be told the medical probability of the fetus’ survival if brought to term, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette previously reported.

Speaking at the news conference beside several legislators who supported Act 301, Rapert called the Roe. v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortions "unjust," "immoral," and a mistake.

"I call upon the current United States Supreme Court to revisit this issue and right the wrongs of their predecessors," he said, adding that he believes the way the Arkansas act was written makes it a candidate for reaching the nation's highest court.

"This bill uniquely, according to legal scholars, by granting the exceptions that are the normal areas of contention, this bill is a bill they feel is soft enough or clean enough that it really could be utilized to once again visit the standard of viability," Rapert said.

Overturned abortion ban to be appealed, Rapert says

State Sen. Jason Rapert says an appeal will be filed after a federal judge struck down the 12-week abortion ban he worked to pass last year. (By Gavin Lesnick)
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