Arkansas would ban abortions as early as 6 weeks
LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Senate voted on Thursday to prohibit most abortions if a heartbeat is detected, ignoring warnings from opponents that banning the procedure as early as six weeks into a pregnancy would invite lawsuits.
If enacted, the ban would be the most stringent in the nation. The Ohio House passed a similar ban in 2011, but it was sidelined in the Senate last year over concerns that it might be found unconstitutional.
Arkansas' Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe told reporters on Thursday that's the same concern that he's researching.
“I'm waiting on lawyers. I think that's the big concern right now — does it run afoul of the Supreme Court or constitutional restrictions?” Beebe said. “That's the first thing we're looking at.”
The Senate approved the new ban on the same day that a House committee advanced two other abortion restrictions, part of a package of legislation anti-abortion groups believe are poised to become law now that Republicans control the state General Assembly.
The Senate approved the proposed Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection Act in a 26-8 vote. The measure, which now heads to a House committee, requires a test to detect a fetal heartbeat before an abortion is performed. If one is detected, a woman could not have an abortion, except in cases of rape, incest and if a mother's life is in danger.
Similar legislation is also being considered in North Dakota and Mississippi. All have faced complaints from abortion rights groups that it runs afoul of the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion up until viability, usually at 22 to 24 weeks.
“I'm asking you to stand up for life, and I believe when there is a heartbeat, based upon even the standard the Supreme Court has utilized, you cannot have a viable child without a heartbeat,” Sen. Jason Rapert, the bill's sponsor, told lawmakers before they approved the legislation.
Five Democrats joined all 21 of the Senate's Republicans to vote for the restriction. Two Democratic lawmakers who spoke out against the bill said they believe it would be an invasion of women's rights to make decisions about their health if the state enacts the ban.
“I don't want to go back to when women used kerosene and clothes hangers because they didn't have a choice,” Sen. Linda Chesterfield, D-Little Rock, told lawmakers.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- ‘Drink of the Devil’ unites formerly feuding families
- Balloonists smash records with trans-Pacific flight
- Internet rules in line for big shift
- Drivers, return to your car dealers for 2nd airbag fix
- Big Bang ‘waves’ go poof under analysis
- Senators approve Keystone pipeline
- Parody a point of racial division
- NASA satellite to track water in soil
- Hillary Clinton’s charter jet costs scrutinized
- Secretary of State Kerry says Cuba talks offer chance to improve lives
- Teen girl Hernandez killed by Denver police once cited for resisting arrest