Edwards v. Beck, No. 14-1891 (8th Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
The Arkansas Human Heartbeat Act provided that a licensed physician “shall not perform an abortion on a pregnant woman before the person tests the pregnant woman to determine whether the fetus that a pregnant woman is carrying possesses a detectible heartbeat.” Ark. Code 20-16-1303(a) (f). A physician could not perform an abortion on a pregnant woman with the specific intent of causing or abetting the termination of the life of an unborn human individual whose heartbeat has been detected and was 12 weeks or greater gestation. The penalty for violation was revocation of the physician's medical license. The Act provided exceptions to protect the life of the mother, for a pregnancy resulting from rape or incest, or for a medical emergency and required informed disclosures about the existence of a heartbeat and the probability of bringing the unborn to term. Arkansas physicians, on behalf of themselves and their patients, challenged the constitutionality of the Act, seeking a permanent injunction. The district court granted a permanent injunction, prohibiting enforcement. The Eighth Circuit affirmed, noting that viability of a fetus varies with individuals.