Arkansas has a new law to protect unborn babies from abortion starting at 18 weeks after Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed the measure Friday.
Arkansas House Bill 1439, the Cherish Act, bans abortions after 18 weeks, except in cases of rape, incest or medical emergencies that threaten the mother’s life. Arkansas currently prohibits abortions after 20 weeks.
“It’s within the second trimester that states are allowed to pass restrictions on, and this, with the science we have today it seems like a very appropriate restriction,” Hutchinson said earlier this year, the AP reports.
State residents told KFSM News 5 that they support the new law and would support even wider abortion restrictions.
“I’m glad he did it,” said Doyle Webb, of Fort Smith, after the governor signed the bill. “I wish it would have been even sooner, maybe whenever there’s a heartbeat. I don’t think there should be abortion.”
Michelle Astor, a former abortion advocate who now is pro-life, and her husband, Charles, agreed.
“I think it’s horrific to have an abortion after that,” Michelle said. “So, I really do support limiting to at least 18 weeks. I would like to see it lower than that, but I think 18 weeks is a good start.”
Her husband agreed, saying: “When a baby has brain waves, they’re pretty much a human being at that point. Now, that isn’t to say their life is more or less than the mom, but I think a lot of women should just be more responsible and use birth control.”
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Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union promised to fight against the law. ACLU of Arkansas Executive Director Rita Sklar said they plan to file a lawsuit soon.
The abortion ban is a “dangerously extreme attack on abortion access and another heavy-handed government intrusion into a woman’s personal medical decisions,” Sklar said in a statement.
However, pro-life leaders are pleased. Jerry Cox, president of the Family Council, praised lawmakers for working to protect unborn babies and moms, Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported earlier this month.
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.”
In February, 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.