Arkansas Asks US Supreme Court To Revisit Abortion

Oct 6, 2015

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge in a file photo speaking at the state Capitol in August.
Credit Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the 12 week abortion ban passed by the state legislature in 2013.

Federal Judge Susan Webber Wright found Act 301 unconstitutional in March 2014, with a three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals later agreeing. The full 8th Circuit refused to consider the case.

On Tuesday, Rutledge formally filed the paperwork for the nation’s high court to consider the case, though she acknowledged to KUAR News that it is a long shot.

"The court does receive 9,000 to 10,000 petitions a year and less than one percent are granted a review with oral arguments, but we are optimistic that they will (hear the case) based on the arguments that we have set forth in this petition," Rutledge said. "We believe that the state's interest in an unborn child's life does not begin at viability, but the outset of pregnancy."

Viability – or the ability to survive outside the womb – is generally considered to be 22 to 24 weeks into a pregnancy. It has been the standard used since the Supreme Court's landmark 1973 case that legalized abortions.

"We argue that Arkansas and other states should be allow to advance their profound interest in defending the life of the unborn, which is exactly what the Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection Act accomplishes," Rutledge said.

The American Civil Liberties Union has called the appeal a waste of money and suggested that the state is trying to undo 40 years of court decisions.

The full court filing can be found here.