Supreme Court Blocks Arkansas Law Banning Abortions After Baby’s Heart Starts Beating

State   |   Conor Beck   |   Jan 19, 2016   |   6:04PM   |   Little Rock, AR

The U.S. Supreme Court today refused to hear a case involving a pro-life law in Arkansas that would ban abortion when the baby’s heart starts beating. At 22 days into pregnancy, before most women know they are pregnant, unborn children complete the development of their heart to the point that a heartbeat begins and the law would have stop abortions at that point.

Since the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit blocked the law in May 2015, the Supreme Court indicated that it believed the lower court made the correct decision by not taking up the case.

The Times Record reports that pro-life Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, who petitioned
the high court to uphold the law, was disappointed by the decision.

“The Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection Act was passed by the elected legislators of this state and
was a reasonable way to protect thelives of more unborn children,” she said. “The court should have
granted certiorari to change its current doctrine that prevents a state from prohibiting abortions until later in pregnancy. Arkansas and other states have a profound interest
in defending the life of the unborn and as attorney general, I had a duty to fully defend this statute.”

Meanwhile, pro-abortion activist groups are heralding the Supreme Court’s decision to decline hearing the case.

Nancy Northup, the president and CEO for the Center for Reproductive Rights, stated:  “Arkansas
politicians cannot pick and choose which parts of the Constitution they want to uphold. The Supreme
Court has never wavered
in affirming that every woman has a right to safely and legally end a pregnancy in the U.S.”

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If reviewed and upheld, the law would have given Arkansas the distinction of having the strongest
pro-life laws in the country. Importantly, the decision by the Court of Appeals was unique for the fact
that three of the court’s judges
asked the Supreme Court to
review the issue of when abortions could be banned outright, questioning the legitimacy of their
definition of viability, since medical
progress has blurred the accuracy of such a line.

Though the Supreme Court declined to hear the Arkansas case, the high court will hear oral
arguments on another pro-life case involving Texas regulations of abortion clinics in March 2016
. It will be the first Supreme Court abortion case since 2007.

US Supreme Court