An Arkansas bill to ban abortions on unborn babies after 18 weeks passed the state Senate on Monday with all but six lawmakers voting for it.
Arkansas House Bill 1439, or the Cherish Act, is sponsored by state Rep. Robin Lundstrum and Sen. Jason Rapert. It would ban abortions after 18 weeks, except in cases of rape, incest or medical emergencies that threaten the mother’s life. The bill would challenge the current U.S. Supreme Court precedent that prohibits states from passing abortion restrictions prior to viability.
“It’s pretty simple in that we already have existing law that prohibits abortion at 20 weeks. This moves that to 18 weeks,” Rapert said.
The state House passed the bill in February, but the Senate amended it to include exceptions for rape and incest, according to the AP. The House must vote on the changes before the bill can go to the governor’s desk.
The vote was 28-6 on Monday with support from three Democrats and 25 Republicans. Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he supports the bill.
Arkansas Democrat Gazette reports Jerry Cox, president of the Family Council, praised lawmakers for working to protect unborn babies and moms.
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Cox said Arkansas is “one of the most responsible states when it comes to protecting the unborn and protecting the health and safety of women.”
“If you look the photographs of the children in the womb, it’s unmistakable that those are babies,” he said. “I think it’s vital not only for the sake of unborn children, but also for the health of women because later in the pregnancy the woman gets an abortion, the more likely there are to be health risks. That’s a proven fact.”
However, the ACLU of Arkansas indicated that it will challenge the legislation if it passes, according to the AP.
The vote comes just weeks after Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed another pro-life bill into law. The Human Life Protection Act (state Senate Bill 149) will protect unborn babies by banning all abortions once Roe v. Wade is overturned.
The legislation is necessary because the infamous abortion case crippled states’ ability to protect unborn babies from abortion. Some hope that the new U.S. Supreme Court justices will overturn the ruling, but even if they do, abortions will remain legal in many states. The Arkansas law will make it one of at least five states that would immediately protect unborn babies once the case is overturned.
The Supreme Court took away the states’ ability to protect unborn babies from abortion under Roe, and instead allowed abortion on demand through all nine months of pregnancy. Roe made the United States one of only seven countries in the world that allows elective abortions after 20 weeks.