LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge on Wednesday filed a petition asking all of the members of the 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to reconsider a recent ruling that struck down most of a state law banning most abortions at 12 weeks or later into a pregnancy.

LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge on Wednesday filed a petition asking all of the members of the 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to reconsider a recent ruling that struck down most of a state law banning most abortions at 12 weeks or later into a pregnancy.


A three-judge panel of the court ruled May 27 that most provisions of the Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection Act of 2013 are unconstitutional, affirming a U.S. district judge’s ruling. Rutledge asked the court for an "en banc" rehearing, in which the full membership of the court would participate.


"I have and will continue to be a strong advocate for the unborn," Rutledge said Wednesday in a statement issued by her office. "The Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection Act, which prohibits abortions after 12 weeks when a heartbeat is detected, was passed by lawmakers in 2013, and it is my duty to defend this law. I believe that the state’s appeal is entitled to a full hearing before the entire 8th Circuit and not just a three-judge panel."


The 8th Circuit upheld U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright’s ruling last year that the state could not prohibit a woman from obtaining an abortion before a fetus becomes viable, or able to survive outside the womb, which generally occurs at about the 24th week of a pregnancy.


Wright and the 8th Circuit did not strike down the portion of the law requiring an ultrasound to check for a fetal heartbeat when a woman seeks an abortion 12 weeks or later into her pregnancy.


Then-Gov. Mike Beebe vetoed the measure in 2013, saying it was unconstitutional, but the Legislature overrode the veto.