Today Attorney General Leslie Rutledge petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the constitutionality of the Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection Act, a 2013 law that prevents most abortions after the twelfth week of pregnancy if a fetal heartbeat is detected.
“As the State argues in its petition to the Court, I believe that certiorari should be granted to allow the Court to revisit and overturn the arbitrary viability rule,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Arkansas and other States should be allowed to advance their profound interests in defending the life of the unborn, which is exactly what the Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection Act accomplishes.”
The “viability rule” to which A.G. Rutledge refers is the result of U.S. Supreme Court rulings such as Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey; it’s a principle in case-law that makes it harder to regulate abortion practices before the unborn baby reaches the point of “viability,” when the baby can survive outside the womb. And Attorney General Rutledge is correct: The rule is completely arbitrary.
“Viability” is a vague concept, as medical science makes it increasingly more likely babies born prematurely will go on to live normal, healthy lives; ambiguity over when a baby reaches the point of “viability” makes utilization of the “viability rule” difficult.
What’s more, there’s no logical reason to give an unborn baby more or less protection based on how long it would survive outside the womb.