Attorneys Continue to Spar Over Arkansas Law Prohibiting Abortion

On Monday Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s office filed a brief in federal court arguing that U.S. District judge Kristine Baker should not block a new state law prohibiting abortion.

Act 309 of 2021 generally prohibits abortion in Arkansas except in cases when the mother’s life is in jeopardy. The law passed with overwhelming support from the state legislature earlier this year, and it is slated to take effect July 28.

Last month the ACLU and abortionists filed a lawsuit against the state over Act 309.

On June 14 the ACLU asked U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker to issue a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction that would block the state from enforcing Act 309.

On Monday the Arkansas Attorney General’s office responded to the ACLU’s request.

The A.G.’s team argues that pro-abortion rulings like Planned Parenthood v. Casey need to be reevaluated and overturned — and that the U.S. Supreme Court is liable to do that in its upcoming Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case out of Mississippi.

The A.G.’s brief also argues that past court decisions like Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey “were wrongly decided” and that “there is no doubt that the fetus is a human life — not mere tissue, not ‘potential life,’ and not ‘the product of conception.'”

As we have written before, U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker has consistently ruled in favor of the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. In light of that fact, many expect Attorney General Rutledge’s arguments to fall on deaf ears in Judge Baker’s court.

However, the judges above her at the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals have overturned some of her bad rulings in the past.

While it seems likely that Judge Baker will block Arkansas’ pro-life law in the short run, the Eighth Circuit may not agree with her decision on appeal.

In the long run, this lawsuit will give federal courts an opportunity to reverse decades of bad case law on abortion.

That means there is potential for significant, pro-life victories down the road.

ACLU Plans to Challenge Arkansas’ New Laws, Opposes Religious Freedom Amendment

Last week the ACLU of Arkansas issued a report calling the state’s 2021 legislative session “a catastrophe for civil and human rights in Arkansas.”

The report heavily criticized some of the good laws the Arkansas Legislature passed this year, including:

  • Act 309 / S.B. 6 (Prohibiting Abortion): This good law by Sen. Jason Rapert (R – Conway) and Rep. Mary Bentley (R – Perryville) prohibits abortion in Arkansas, except in cases when the mother’s life is in jeopardy. This could save the lives of thousands of children and give the courts an opportunity to overturn bad, pro-abortion rulings. Read The Law Here.
  • Act 626 / H.B. 1570 (Prohibiting Sex-Reassignment on Children): This good law by Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R – Springdale) and Sen. Alan Clark (R – Lonsdale) prohibits sex-reassignment procedures on children. The law also prevents funding of sex-reassignment procedures performed on children. This law will protect children from being subjected to surgeries and procedures that can leave them sterilized and permanently scarred. Read The Law Here.
  • Act 461 / S.B. 354 (Protecting Fairness in Women’s Sports): This good law by Sen. Missy Irvin (R – Mountain View) and Rep. Sonia Barker (R -Smackover) would prevent male student athletes from competing against girls in women’s athletics. This would protect fairness for girls’ sports at school in Arkansas. Read The Law Here.
  • S.J.R. 14 (Religious Freedom Amendment): S.J.R. 14 by Sen. Jason Rapert (R – Conway) and Rep. Jimmy Gazaway (R – Paragould) amends the Arkansas Constitution. It prevents the government from burdening a person’s free exercise of religion. The measure is similar to Arkansas’ state Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Family Council strongly supports this good amendment to the Arkansas Constitution. Read The Measure Here.

The ACLU indicated it plans to file lawsuits to block the state from enforcing Act 309 and Act 626.

If the ACLU follows through with its lawsuit against Act 309 (S.B. 6), it will give the federal courts an opportunity to reverse decades of bad case law on abortion — including possibly overturning or Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and other pro-abortion decisions.

The ACLU also said “The Arkansas Religious Freedom Amendment [S.J.R. 14] would be among the most extreme of its kind in the country, giving people a basis to challenge and exempt themselves from virtually any state law.”

But that simply is not the case.

Most states in America have enacted Religious Freedom Restoration Acts similar to S.J.R. 14 already.

Alabama has had a religious freedom amendment very similar to S.J.R. 14 in its state constitution for many years.

Measures like S.J.R. 14 simply help restore protections for the free exercise of religion. It’s just a good amendment that will help ensure that our state constitution protects religious liberty in Arkansas.

That’s something that everybody ought to be able to support.