Arkansas may become the second state in the U.S. to ban abortions on unborn babies with beating hearts this fall.
The Daily Mail reports state Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Conway, hopes to introduce the Arkansas Heartbeat Protection Act later this month. He said his bill is a “mirror” of the Texas law that has saved thousands of unborn babies since it went into effect Sept. 1.
Like the Texas law, Rapert said his bill will ban abortions on unborn babies once their heartbeat is detectable, about six weeks of pregnancy; it also includes “a civil cause of action” that allows private citizens to sue abortionists who abort unborn babies in violation of the law.
“It should be easy to pass the Texas-style heartbeat bill in our upcoming special session,” he said.
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In a statement Tuesday, Rapert urged Gov. Asa Hutchinson to call a planned special legislative session so that they can pass the bill. Hutchinson, a pro-life Republican, recently said he would delay convening the session, in part, because he wants to wait for “Supreme Court guidance.”
“We have the opportunity to save the lives of unborn Arkansans today, all the governor has to do is call a special session of the legislature with the Heartbeat Bill on the agenda and we will pass it,” Rapert responded. “We don’t need to wait on the U.S. Supreme Court for guidance – Arkansas people want to stop abortions right now.”
Texas is the first state to be allowed to enforce a heartbeat law, but pro-abortion groups and the Biden administration are fighting desperately in court to block it. This week, the Supreme Court agreed to consider temporarily blocking the law, but it has not ruled yet.
Rapert, who has sponsored other pro-life legislation, told the Southwest Times Record earlier this fall that he would stop abortions today if he could.
“I’d go board-up the abortion clinics in west Little Rock this weekend and be done with it because that’s what the people of Arkansas want,” he said. “But I’m working within the system, and we respect the fact that we passed laws, they got struck down, we came at it again.”
Arkansas lawmakers passed a similar heartbeat law, the Arkansas Unborn Child Protection Act (Senate Bill 6), by a strong majority in March. However, a federal judge blocked the law before the state could enforce it.
Rapert believes his new bill is more likely to withstand a legal challenge and save babies’ lives because it includes a unique provision that allows private citizens to enforce the abortion ban. It is because of this unique provision that the Texas law currently is in effect, saving thousands of babies’ lives.
Americans United for Life named Arkansas the “most pro-life state in America” in 2020. The state legislature has passed more than a dozen pro-life laws in the past two years, though many are not in effect because of Roe v. Wade.
Since 1973, the Supreme Court has forced states to legalize abortion on demand under Roe v. Wade. States that want to protect unborn babies may only do so once they reach the point of viability, currently about 22 weeks. Roe made the United States one of only seven countries in the world that allows elective abortions after 20 weeks.
Arkansas and more than a dozen other states are challenging that precedent through total abortion bans, laws that prohibit abortions after an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable, laws banning discriminatory abortions on unborn babies with disabilities, and laws banning abortions after the first trimester.
On Dec. 1, the Supreme Court will hear a Mississippi case to consider “whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortion are unconstitutional.” The state law at issue in the case prohibits abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Polls indicate that most Americans want stronger protections for unborn babies. Gallup has been asking about the legality of abortions by trimester for decades. Its polls have found steady, strong opposition to abortion on demand. Additionally, a 2019 Hill-HarrisX poll found that 55 percent of voters said they do not think laws banning abortions after six weeks – when an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable – are too restrictive.