Arkansas Defends Pro-Life Law Banning Abortions on Babies With Down Syndrome

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Nov 1, 2019   |   1:44AM   |   Little Rock, Arkansas

Attorneys for the state of Arkansas defended the right to protect unborn babies with Down syndrome from discrimination Thursday in a court filing.

Arkansas Online reports Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s office urged the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals to lift a temporary injunction blocking the state from enforcing several life-saving laws.

The court case involves three pro-life laws that protect mothers and unborn babies. One prohibits discriminatory abortions based on a Down syndrome diagnosis. A second prohibits abortions after 18 weeks with limited exceptions, and a third requires that abortionists be board-certified OB-GYNs.

The Little Rock Family Planning Services abortion facility, Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union are challenging the laws. In July, U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker, an appointee of pro-abortion President Barack Obama, blocked the state from enforcing the laws until a court rules on the constitutionality of the laws.

Now, the state is appealing.

In their argument to the court, Rutledge’s office said there are good reasons to prohibit abortions after 18 weeks, including increased risks to the mother’s health, according to the report.

The law “responds to evidence linking increased maternal risk to increased gestational age and seeks to limit that risk. It also allows Arkansas to join the many nations limiting abortions after 18 weeks’ gestation. … And the deadline recognizes that by 18 weeks, an unborn child has taken on ‘the human form’ in all relevant respects, making the procedures for post-18-week abortions particularly barbaric.”

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The United States is one of only seven nations in the world that allows elective abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, a fact confirmed by the liberal Washington Post. Roe v. Wade prohibits states from banning abortions prior to viability, but laws like the ones in Arkansas are challenging this legal precedent.

The attorney general also argued that the law protecting unborn babies with Down syndrome should be allowed to go into effect.

“Arkansas is entitled to prohibit abortion practitioners from discriminating against people with disabilities,” her office wrote. The pro-life law is “a step toward remedying a shameful history of discrimination.”

Rutledge’s office found fault with Baker’s ruling on the requirement that abortionists be board-certified OB-GYNs.

Here’s more from the report:

The attorneys argued that Baker “ignored evidence of the OBGYN requirement’s benefits over existing law.”

They said existing law provides only four requirements for abortion practitioners: that they are state-licensed physicians, that they must obtain prior consent from the patient; that they must keep a record of obtaining consent; and that they must report all abortions provided.

“In other words, prior to the OBGYN requirement any Arkansas-licensed doctor — whether family practitioner, opthamologist, or radiologist — could perform abortions,” the filing states. “The district court then declared without explanation that this was good enough and declined to consider evidence that, unlike those physicians, all OBGYNs are ‘trained in 1st and 2nd trimester evacuation of the uterus,’ and to handle the ‘complications of abortion (spontaneous or induced).’ On that basis, it found that the OBGYN requirement would provide few, if any, benefits.”

WGBH reports abortion activists have argued that the laws would restrict women’s access to abortion because many would have to travel out of state if they went into effect.

The abortion groups did not challenge a fourth law that requires a 72-hour waiting period between informed consent and the abortion, according to The Hill. It went into effect in July.

In March, Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed the pro-life laws. Arkansas House Bill 1439, the Cherish Act, bans abortions after 18 weeks, except in cases of rape, incest or medical emergencies that threaten the mother’s life.

“It’s within the second trimester that states are allowed to pass restrictions on, and this, with the science we have today it seems like a very appropriate restriction,” Hutchinson said earlier this year, the AP reports.

A number of state residents told KFSM News 5 that they support the new laws and would support even wider abortion restrictions.