Sen. Jason Rapert and Family Council president Jerry Cox announced this morning at the state Capitol that the state will appeal a federal judge’s ruling that declared Act 301, to prohibit abortion after 12 weeks gestation, when a heartbeat is detected.
Federal Judge Susan Webber Wright let stand the part of the so-called Human Heartbeat Protection Act that requires doctors to provide an ultrasound to get “informed consent” to abort, earning praise from Cox and Rapert.
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel is expected to file an appeal by the end of the day.
Standing with Rapert and Cox were several legislators and anti-abortion advocates including Millie Lace, who regrets having an abortion and has created a post-abortion counseling organization. Lace believes abortion causes everything from deep depression to suicidal thoughts, drug abuse, divorce and other terrible things. She claimed that cells of the fetus pass through the placenta to the mother, causing lasting grief.
Rapert boasted that Arkansas is the 3rd most anti-abortion state in the country and that the informed consent law is the strongest. He said “legal scholars” had advised him that the law has a good chance of overturning Roe v. Wade’s definition of viability, which is not based on the detection of a heartbeat but when a fetus can survive outside the womb (23 to 24 weeks).
Rita Sklar, director of ACLU Arkansas, said Rapert will not prevail and the state will waste dollars — an estimated $163,000, the AG’s office has calculated based on past appeals — fighting what is clearly a correct ruling by Wright.
No matter how one feels about abortion, Rapert repeated the appalling, sexist claim that women just don’t know what they’re doing when they seek abortion. Pointing to his own belly, he said Act 301 would allow women to have the “opportunity to understand this is a human being.” Really? Not a puppy?
McDaniel is expected to call a press conference later today.
UPDATE: McDaniel released the following statement:
ITTLE ROCK – Attorney General Dustin McDaniel released the following statement today after deciding to pursue an appeal of U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright’s ruling in the federal lawsuit over Act 301 of 2013, which was sponsored by Sen. Jason Rapert:
“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.”