You may recall during the previous legislative session Rep. Andy Mayberry (R-East End) filed a bill that would have banned abortion after the point at which the unborn child can experience pain – usually considered 20 weeks. The bill was voted down by the House Public Health Committee after Attorney General Dustin McDaniel’s office spoke against it saying it would cause Arkansas to end up in court.
We should soon get a look as to the validity of McDaniel’s concerns as a similar bill passed in Idaho is being challenged in court. Although abortions after 20 weeks are no longer being preformed in clinics in Idaho, the lawsuit comes from a Idaho women who took abortion inducing drugs from an Internet provider. According to a report from Reuters, she was charged under a 1972 Idaho law prohibiting self-induced abortions. The charges were dropped, however, and she is challenging the constitutionality of both the 1972 law and the pain awareness ban.
Both pro-life and pro-choice groups are watching this case closely as this is the first challenge to a state law effectively banning abortions after 20 weeks. If it is upheld, it will further expand a state’s ability to restrict abortions. The Supreme Court upheld certain state restrictions in Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992 and a federal ban on partial birth abortions in Gonzales v. Carhart in 2007. Pro-life groups hope for a similar outcome in the current court challenge.
Also, of note, Alabama signed a similar law into effect yesterday becoming the fifth state to do so.