Arkansas state Sen. Jason Rapert is working to make his state abortion-free as Americans watch and wait to see if the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade.
Last week, after the Supreme Court heard a major abortion case, Rapert expressed hope that Arkansas and other states may be allowed to protect unborn babies from abortion again soon, NPR Little Rock reports.
“I believe that the best decision that they could make is to allow states to exercise the same authority we had been exercising prior to the Roe v. Wade decision,” he told the news outlet.
In the meantime, the Conway Republican plans to introduce legislation similar to the Texas heartbeat law during a special legislative session Tuesday.
Rapert said his bill, the Arkansas Heartbeat Protection Act, would protect unborn babies by banning abortions once their heartbeat is detectable. The legislation is modeled after the Texas heartbeat law, which is the first early abortion ban that the courts have allowed a state to enforce in decades. Since it went into effect Sept. 1, Texas pro-life leaders estimate thousands of unborn babies’ lives have been saved.
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“It’s our role to stand up and push for change in the system when we see inequity or we want to address the situation,” Rapert said.
Like the Texas law, Rapert said his bill also includes “a civil cause of action” that allows private citizens to sue abortionists who abort unborn babies in violation of the law.
Arkansas already has a law that bans all abortions, the Arkansas Unborn Child Protection Act. However, the law is not in effect because of Roe v. Wade. When Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed the law in March, he said he hopes it will prompt the Supreme Court to reconsider its infamous abortion ruling.
Rapert’s hope is that the courts will allow Arkansas to enforce his heartbeat legislation while Roe stands, as the courts did with the Texas law, and unborn babies will be saved under the restriction until the total abortion ban can be enforced.
Recently, however, Hutchinson, a pro-life Republican, expressed hesitancy about the heartbeat bill, saying he wants to wait for “Supreme Court guidance.”
In November, the Supreme Court considered the Biden administration’s request to temporarily block the Texas law, but it has not ruled yet.
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 do so only 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.
Last week, Mississippi leaders asked the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade and allow states to protect unborn babies again or, at the very least, allow states to enact more limits on abortion, such as an abortion ban after 15 weeks of pregnancy. If it does, hundreds of thousands of babies could be spared from violent abortion deaths every year across America.
The Supreme Court is expected to publish its ruling on the Mississippi case sometime next year, potentially June 2022.