At the behest of Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Bigelow, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel (D) said he would appeal a federal judge’s ruling on a controversial 12-week abortion ban.
The law was passed in the 2013 legislative session over a veto from Gov. Mike Beebe (D), who declared the measure was unconstitutional.
Federal judge Susan Webber Wright ruled that the abortion prohibition at 12 weeks was unconstitutional and in violation of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
Wright’s ruling did leave a provision of the law intact that requires a doctor to notify a pregnant woman when a fetal heartbeat is detected.
McDaniel said he agreed to appeal the decision as long as a state agency involved in the lawsuit was left financially unharmed and he said he warned the bill’s supporters that they could jeopardize losing the concessions they made by the lower court ruling.
McDaniel issued this note: “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.”