Arkansas House lawmakers advanced a pro-life bill Tuesday that would save nearly 3,000 unborn babies from abortion every year if the courts allow it to be enforced.
The Arkansas Unborn Child Protection Act (Senate Bill 6) appears likely to pass after the state House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee voted to move it to the full House for a vote, KATV 7 reports. The state Senate passed the bill by a strong majority in February.
If enacted, the bill would ban all abortions in the state. The only exceptions would be if the mother’s life or health are at risk. Abortionists who violate the ban would face up to 10 years in prison. Women would not be punished.
State Rep. Mary Bentley, R-Perryville, is the lead sponsor of the bill in the House. She said Arkansas Right to Life, the Family Council and the Catholic Diocese of Little Rock all support the bill.
“Arkansas is the most pro-life state in the nation and never have our constituents or Arkansans ever voted for abortion in Arkansas,” Bentley said, according to the Democrat Gazette.
Nearly 3,000 unborn babies are aborted in Arkansas every year, according to state health statistics. However, even if the bill passes, it likely will be challenged and blocked in court.
State Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Conway, the lead sponsor of the bill, said the legal challenge is part of the point, and he hopes it will prompt the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. But some pro-life leaders expressed concerns about the possibility of a legal challenge backfiring, saying the courts could instead decide to solidify the so-called “right” to abort an unborn baby, according to the report.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a pro-life Republican, also expressed reservations about the legislation during a recent press conference, KATV reports.
“I’ve always historically signed every pro-life bill that’s come to my desk, this one has caused some pause because it is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade,” he said. “It does not include a rape and incest as exceptions, but I want to look that over, look at the prospects of it and then make a decision …”
Other pro-life bills also are moving through the Arkansas legislature. In February, the state Senate passed the Every Mom Matters Act (House Bill 1195), which establishes a state hotline that women must call before going through with an abortion.
Some pro-lifers have renewed hope that the U.S. Supreme Court will uphold an abortion ban and overturn Roe v. Wade. Others, however, are hesitant because of concerns about losing the court battle and being forced to reimburse pro-abortion groups for their legal fees.
Though the high court currently has a conservative majority, Chief Justice John Roberts, who was nominated by a Republican president, has sided with the liberal justices on a number of occasions.
In 1973, the Supreme Court took away the states’ ability to protect unborn babies from abortion under Roe v. Wade, and instead forced states to legalize abortion on demand. Roe made the United States one of only seven countries in the world that allows elective abortions after 20 weeks.