Last Updated:July 23 @ 06:22 pm

Arkansas 1st to ban heartbeat abortions

By The Washington Times

The Arkansas General Assembly on Wednesday enacted a first-in- the-nation law that would ban most abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy if a fetal heartbeat is detected.

Opponents swiftly denounced the legislation and said they would challenge it in court.

Arkansas lawmakers said the law "squares" with other state legislation and the U.S. Supreme Court Roe v. Wade ruling, and should withstand court challenges.

"We have chosen here to utilize language from Roe v. Wade that says the states have an interest in protecting human lives, especially fetuses at approximately the end of the first trimester and the beginning of the second trimester," said state Sen. Jason Rapert, one of the Republican leaders for the Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection Act.

"That happens to be 12 weeks," he said.

"We believe that because we put it at 12 weeks it will survive a court challenge - we are setting it at the end of the first trimester," said Arkansas Rep. Ann Clemmer, who shepherded the bill in the state House.

Moreover, the act "squares" with a state fetal-homicide law, Mr. Rapert said.

Arkansas law "declares a 12-week-old baby in utero to be a person and we have prosecuted individuals who have hurt babies in utero," Ms. Clemmer said.

Because an unborn child is a person at 12 weeks in Arkansas, she added, "let's protect that person. There are two people involved now."

On Monday, Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat, vetoed the measure, known as Senate Bill 134, saying he did not think it was constitutional and would cost the state money to defend.

The state Senate easily overrode the veto Tuesday, and the House followed suit with a 56-33 vote Wednesday. The record would be corrected to show a 57th House member also voted for the measure, Ms. Clemmer said.

The law goes into effect 90 days after lawmakers adjourn in May.

The "heartbeat" law requires women seeking abortions at 12 weeks or later to receive abdominal ultrasounds. If a fetal heartbeat is detected, the abortion is not permitted in most cases. Exemptions include pregnancies that result from incest or rape, or in cases of "medical emergency" in which the woman's life is in danger or the fetus has a "highly lethal" disorder.

These exceptions are what made the bill "successful where many other bills have failed," Mr. Rapert said.

Pro-life supporters were pleased with the bill's passage.

"We are very excited for this law," said Vikki Parker, executive director of A Woman's Place Pregnancy Center in Cabot, Ark. "It's going to save a lot of babies" - and "a lot of women."

Pro-choice organizations pledged to challenge the "extreme" law in court.

"We are deeply disappointed that the Arkansas legislature voted to impose the most restrictive ban on safe and legal abortion in the country," said Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the legislature now has "the shameful distinction of passing the worst impediment to women's reproductive health in decades."

State lawmakers have turned their backs on the women of Arkansas, said Rita Sklar, executive director of ACLU of Arkansas. "We will fight this law in court to ensure that politicians cannot deny women the ability to make their own decisions about their own health."

While "heartbeat" bills have been attempted in other states, this is the first one to be enacted.

"I know that the eyes of the nation were on the Arkansas House of Representatives today, and what you see happening is that people are waking up," Mr. Rapert said.

With 53 million abortions since 1973, "we have had a very irrational policy on abortion in our nation. ... I am asking us to have a conscience and to wake up to this issue, and I believe this [law] is a great step in that direction."

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3 Comments

  1. Ollie_FanComment by Ollie_Fan
    March 8, 2013 @ 4:54 am

    We are told that we cannot cut down a tree because it’s a “living-breathing creature of the earth” (I was told this by a lefty university hippie a few years ago). But those of the same ilk are angry when an attempt to stop murder of a human “living-breathing creature”.

    Getting the thought out there that the fetus has a heart, and it’s beating is important. People need to think about it more, this IS a HUMAN BEING. Before 2007, I never really placed much thought into abortion, to me there were more pressing matters. Then one day I really starting thinking about the child inside a womb and the more I correlated the fetus to a real child and not just some flesh and tissue, the more I came to defend the pro-life opinion.

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  2. marj0120Comment by marj0120
    March 8, 2013 @ 10:34 am

    Until you’ve seen the ultra sound pictures of an unborn child trying to back away from chemicals injected into the uterus to cause abortion. Or see the tools needed to kill a child by dismembering it one limb at a time prior to actual birth. Perhaps you can just think of the child as a mass of cells, unthinking, unfeeling and unworthy of life based on the convenience of the mother. We are killing children at the rate of 2.1 per minute, 24/7 X 365 using the smallest numbers I could find. Less than .5% are the result of the conditions outlined in this law as justification.

    The number of women who don’t realize they are pregnant by three months is incredibly small and waiting until six to seven months to make a decision constitutes murder in my mind. Not just murder but a torturous death by dismemberment, A sharp tool jabbed into the living brain? We don’t to this to the worst mass murderers in our society so how can we possibly say it’s okay to kill an innocent child this way.

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  3. Bolt300Comment by Bolt300
    March 8, 2013 @ 11:38 am

    It’s interesting that the ACLU and Planned Parenthood don’t want the government to deny women the ability to make decisions about their own health, but it’s ok for the government to tell the rest of us how to manage our health through Obamacare.

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