Eighth Circuit Blocks Arkansas Pro-life Laws

The Eighth Circuit this week affirmed a lower court ruling blocking Arkansas abortion laws that ban abortions after 18 weeks, and abortions based on a Down syndrome diagnosis. In a unanimous ruling, the three-judge panel upheld a lower court ruling blocking the two laws on the grounds that they would create a legal barrier to abortions prior to viability. 

However, two of the three judges issued concurring opinions restating their view that the Supreme Court should reconsider the viability standard in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Judge Bobby Shepherd states in his opinion:

Today's opinion is another stark reminder that the viability standard fails to adequately consider the substantial interest of the state in protecting the lives of unborn children as well as the state's "compelling interest in preventing abortion from becoming a tool of modern-day eugenics." Box [v. Planned Parenthood (2019)] (Thomas, J., concurring). The viability standard does not and cannot contemplate abortions based on an unwanted immutable characteristic of the unborn child.

We also await a ruling from a separate Eighth Circuit panel on the constitutionality of Missouri's recent pro-life law, HB 126. That law, among other things, banned abortions based on a Down syndrome diagnosis and regulated abortions at eight, 14, 18, and 20 weeks gestation.

January 11, 2021 - 4:14pm

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