Little Rock Family Planning Services v. Rutledge, No. 19-2690 (8th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
LRFP challenged the constitutionality (42 U.S.C. 1983) of three 2019 Arkansas statutes: Act 493 bans providers from performing an abortion when the “probable age” of the fetus is “determined to be greater than eighteen weeks’ gestation,” with exceptions for a medical emergency or a pregnancy that results from rape or incest; Act 619 prohibits a provider from intentionally performing an abortion with knowledge that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion “solely on the basis” of any reason to believe that the fetus has Down syndrome, with exceptions if the abortion is necessary to preserve the woman’s life or health and for rape or incest; and Act 700, providing that a person who performs an abortion must be a licensed physician “board-certified or board-eligible in obstetrics and gynecology” (OBGYN). A provider who violates these statutes commits a Class D felony and is subject to suspension or revocation of his medical license.
The district court preliminarily enjoined enforcement of the Acts. The Eighth Circuit affirmed with respect to Act 493 and Act 619 and dismissed as moot the appeal concerning Act 700 because the plaintiffs were in compliance with the OBGYN requirement. Defendants presented no generally accepted medical evidence that the attainment of viability has shifted; Act 493 effectively prohibits a substantial universe of pre-viability abortions. Act 619 is a complete prohibition of abortions based on the pregnant woman’s reason for exercising the right to terminate her pregnancy before viability.