Arkansas To Appeal Ruling On 12-Week Abortion Ban

Apr 11, 2014

State Sen. Jason Rapert speaking at a press conference Friday at the Arkansas Capitol.
Credit Arkansas Times

The Arkansas Attorney General’s office filed a notice of appeal Friday to uphold the state law passed last year restricting abortions after 12 weeks. The law had been blocked from going into effect by federal judge Susan Wright and last month she struck down most provisions of the act. State Senator Jason Rapert (R-Bigelow) sponsored the legislation and spoke at the Capitol with other Republican legislators Friday applauding the decision to appeal.

“The Roe v. Wade decision was an error. In the history of our great nation people have at times hid behind a flawed interpretation of the US Constitution to protect all sorts of depravity and repression. When people have told me many times this is unconstitutional they forget that the Constitution was once used to prohibit women having the right to vote. The Constitution was once used to say that black skinned persons, that African-Americans were not full persons in our nation. This was wrong,” said Rapert.

The senator argued asking courts to continually reassess rulings protecting abortion is critical for those wanting to ban the procedure. ACLU of Arkansas Director Rita Sklar said she finds fault with Rapert’s court strategy.

“He’s going in the wrong direction. We’re talking about expansion of rights and we are not going to see a diminution of rights, of women’s rights, to maintain autonomy over their own personal, private medical decisions,” said Sklar.

She continued, saying the appeal by McDaniel is a waste of state funds.

“Even though we could say the ACLU has nothing but to benefit from the extra fees that we’ll get because we’re sure to win this case, as an Arkansas taxpayer I very much resent this waste of time and energy on something that has absolutely no purpose, no place to go but down. This case has no chance. It has as much chance of being overturned as the first amendment,” said Sklar.

Rapert also said the decision to appeal is a manifestation of the will of Arkansans in action. He cited a Talk Business-Hendrix College poll showing support for the legislation.

“At that time it was reported as having 60 percent of Arkansas voters polled in favor of this bill, only 33 percent was opposing. Clearly the will of the majority of Arkansans is to protect the lives of innocent unborn children and I’m proud that our state is standing up for our right to limit abortion and save the lives of little babies. I want to thank Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel,” said Rapert.

The Attorney General, concerned about future legal costs, said in a statement he is appealing only after getting assurances from some legislative leaders that a separate appropriation would be provided if necessary.

McDaniel's office released the statement Friday afternoon:

I have spoken candidly with Sen. Rapert about the risks and costs associated with an appeal. 

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 Dismang and House Speaker-designate 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.

Therefore, the notice of appeal was filed today and this office will diligently litigate this matter to its conclusion.

I have also committed to Sen. Rapert, Jerry Cox and the Liberty Counsel our continued cooperation and transparency in the course of this litigation.