Thursday, July 9, 2015

8th Circuit denies review of ruling striking down Arkansas's 12-week abortion ban

Posted By on Thu, Jul 9, 2015 at 9:38 AM

In a two-sentence order today, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's petition for the entire court to review a three-judge panel's ruling striking down the state's ban on most abortions at 12 weeks of pregnancy.

The panel on May 27 upheld District Judge Susan Webber Wright's ruling invalidating the law. Rutledge asked for a so-called en banc review. They are rarely granted, certainly not when federal case law is so clear against laws that restrict abortion well before fetus viability.

Earlier this week, the 8th Circuit awarded more than $28,000 in attorney fees and costs to the winning lawyers for appellate work in the case, on top of some $69,000 awarded for lower court work.

I've asked the attorney general's office if Rutledge will file a petition for U.S. Supreme Court review. If she does, it is virtually certain to be denied.

The Center for Reproductive Rights reissued a statement it made after the earlier 8th Circuit ruling. It said in part:

“Today’s ruling affirms that safely and legally ending a pregnancy remains a protected constitutional right in this country.

“Women should not have to run to court in state after state, year after year to protect their constitutional rights from these politically motivated attacks. The Constitution and the courts are clear: A woman’s right to decide for herself whether to continue or safely and legally end a pregnancy does not change depending on what state she happens to live in."

The 8th Circuit today denied both a request for a rehearing by the panel and en banc consideration. It ruled as moot a petition to file a friend of the court brief. The law was challenged by abortion providers on behalf of patients.

UPDATE: Attorney General Rutledge said she wasn't yet ready to say if she will seek a review by the U.S. Supreme Court. She has 90 days to decide.

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