Arkansas Set to Impose Nation’s Most Restrictive Abortion Law

Friday, February 08, 2013

Having won control of the state legislature last November, Republican lawmakers in Arkansas are seeking to adopt the nation’s most restrictive anti-abortion law, among other bills targeting the medical procedure.


Legislation introduced by Senator Jason Rapert would prevent an abortion if a heartbeat can be detected using an abdominal ultrasound. Originally, Rapert wanted to ban the procedure after six weeks, but then changed it to 10-12 weeks.


The proposal includes exemptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother. Even with the amendment, the plan would still be the strictest abortion ban in the U.S., according to the Associated Press.


Rapert’s bill, the “Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection Act,” has already cleared the state Senate by a vote of 26-8 and is now being considered by the House, where Republicans hold a slim 51-49 majority.


Democratic Governor Mike Beebe and Republican House Speaker Davy Carter have raised concerns about the constitutionality of Rapert’s measure. Beebe has not said whether he will sign the legislation if it reaches his desk.


Bettina Brownstein, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, said Rapert’s bill violates the U.S. Constitution.


“Twelve weeks is not going to pass constitutional muster,” Brownstein told the Associated Press. “Twelve weeks is still going to ban a large percentage of abortions.”


In addition to the “heartbeat bill,” lawmakers are considering another bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy with no exceptions for rape or incest. That legislation has cleared the House and awaits a vote in the Senate.


The House also voted for a plan to block insurance companies from covering abortions if they participate in the online marketplace created under the federal healthcare reform law.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Arkansas Abortion Bill: Lawmaker Proposes Change To Fetal Heartbeat Measure (by Andrew DeMillo, Associated Press)

Arkansas Senate Passes Measure To Ban Most Abortions (Little River News)

Arkansas House Votes To Ban Abortion After 20 Weeks With No Rape, Incest Exceptions (by Andrew DeMillo, Associated Press)

Court Blocks Arizona Late-Term Abortion Law (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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