After the Arkansas Senate approved the bill, an Arkansas state House committee voted today for a bill that would ban a good percentage of abortions in the state. The measure would ban abortions at the point when a unborn child’s heart starts to beat.
At 22 days into pregnancy, before most women know they are pregnant, unborn children complete the development of their heart to the point that a heartbeat begins and the bill would stop abortions at that point.
Some pro-life groups are not on board with the legislation, not because they oppose banning abortions but out of a concern that it will be struck down in court if passed, since the Supreme Court is currently dominated by at least a 5-4 pro-abortion majority. As a result, the legislation would be struck down in court and the ruling would add to the case law that supports Roe vs. Wade. Such groups are working to change the courts so Roe can be overturned and legislation like the Heartbeat bill or others could be approved to provide legal protection for unborn children.
The bill the House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee voted for today would ban most abortions in Arkansas if a fetal heartbeat is detected via ultrasound 12 weeks into a pregnancy. The panel approved the measure on a voice vote and now it heads to the state House floor.
The House did change the measure from the Senate version, which bans abortions starting at 6 weeks into pregnancy. Pro-abortion groups opposed the bill and said the only way a heartbeat could be detected that early is by a vaginal ultrasound. They opposed the bill even though abortion clinics routinely perform ultrasounds before an abortion to determine the age of the baby.
According to an AP report, Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe said Thursday he believes the bill is unconstitutional. Before today’s vote, Beebe told reportershis office is looking into those constitutional concerns.
“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.”
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The Senate approved the new ban 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” by a 26-8 vote. Five Democrats joined all 21 of the Senate’s Republicans to vote for the legislation.
“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.