Abortion Bills Advance To Arkansas House For Final Vote

Feb 19, 2013

  The Arkansas House of Representatives is set to vote on two controversial abortion bans, possibly later this week, after a committee approved the legislation Tuesday.

One bill would ban abortions after 20 weeks, and the other would ban them after 12. Both bills have been amended to include exceptions for rape, incest and the health of the mother, but some say both bills go too far, infringing on women’s rights to control their reproductive health.

Rita Sklar of the ACLU testified against the legislation. She says lawsuits against the state are certain if either abortion restriction passes.

“I would say it’s open season in terms of lawsuits right now, and as far as I’m concerned, we would rather have prevented them to save the state money,” Sklar told reporters after the House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee meeting.

Some have suggested that the point of the legislation is, in fact, to draw lawsuits in an attempt to set a court precedent that might ultimately apply further restrictions to abortions.

Senator Jason Rapert, a Republican from Conway, sponsored the bill that would ban abortions after 12 weeks.

“No. The point of the bill is to save the lives of children, to save the lives of babies. We have stayed out of all of the areas that are of conflict: there are exceptions for rape, incest, save the life of the mother or preserve the health of the mother and also fatal fetal anomalies as well. The goal of this bill is to save children,” Rapert said.

Though Rapert’s bill is the more restrictive of the two, he says he expects it to survive court challenges.

In the short term, the Governor isn’t saying if he’ll sign the bill into law, though it’s likely the bill could withstand a veto. It’s already received enough votes in the Senate to suggest so and with Republican majorities in the House, earning the simple majority required to override a veto wouldn’t be an unlikely feat.