Arkansas Defends Pro-Life Laws in Court, Including Ban on Aborting Babies With Down Syndrome

On February 16, 2020

World News…with

Biblical Commentary

On November 1, NRL News Today reported on a 72-page brief submitted by attorneys for the state of Arkansas to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in defense of three laws which had been scheduled to  go into effect July 24, 2019. They are:

  • Act 619 which protects unborn babies who would be aborted solely because of a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.
  • Act 700 which requires abortion providers to be board-certified or board-eligible in obstetrics and gynecology.
  • Act 493 which bans abortions starting at 18 weeks.

The brief was in response to Judge Kristine Baker, whose every ruling favors the abortion industry, who had temporarily blocked enforcement of the laws and later (on August 6) extended the block with a preliminary injunction.

“It is to remain in place until the constitutionality of the three laws can be determined, unless a three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit sides with the state and dissolves the injunction before then,” according to Linda Satter, of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Satter reported on Thursday that “Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s office filed additional arguments Wednesday to support the state’s appeal of an injunction keeping three abortion laws from being enforced since they were scheduled to take effect 6½ months ago.”

For our purposes, the key points AG Rutledge’s office made (according to Satter’s summary) are

*In the state’s latest filing, the attorney general’s office complained that the pre-enforcement injunction “prohibited Arkansas from pursuing three goals: reducing brutal, late-term abortions; outlawing discriminatory abortions that devalue people already living with Down Syndrome; and protecting women from incompetent abortion practitioners.”

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“To justify enjoining Arkansas’s requirement that abortion practitioners be board-certified or board-eligible OBGYNs, the district court deferred to Plaintiffs — the very practitioners from whom women need protection,” the state attorneys said. “Practitioners like Plaintiffs will never realistically gauge the benefits of health-and-safety laws like the OBGYN requirement because they believe that ‘abortion is safer than carrying a pregnancy to term.’”

*The state argued that the plaintiffs didn’t prove they are ultimately likely to succeed in their case. They said the clinics, backed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, aren’t likely to succeed “because they have not demonstrated that the ‘benefits’ of the challenged provisions ‘are substantially outweighed by the burdens they impose on a large fraction of women.’

*Baker had concluded in her 186 page long ruling, Satter wrote, that  “the benefits of the requirement are substantially outweighed by the burdens they impose on a large fraction of abortion-seeking women in Arkansas.” But the AG’s office responded that those burdens “are all self-inflicted.”Elaborating on previous arguments in support of the Down syndrome law, the state attorneys wrote, “In the United States, this pattern of discrimination has led to the abortion of about two-thirds of children diagnosed with Down Syndrome.” They added, quoting an article cited in a 1995 Wisconsin case, that “these discriminatory abortions  ‘demean, devalue and isolate members of our society who currently live with disabilities.’” Note: Dave Andrusko is the editor of National Right to Life News and an author and editor of several books on abortion topics. This post originally appeared in at National Right to Life News Today —- an online column on pro-life issues.

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Author: Dave Andrusko

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