An Arkansas lawmaker continues to urge state leaders this month to pass a Texas-style heartbeat bill to protect unborn babies from abortion in their state.
KUAR News reports state Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Conway, said he has been talking with state pro-life leaders and plans to talk with Gov. Asa Hutchinson next week about his legislation, the Arkansas Heartbeat Protection Act.
“I am working towards a day when we will see every abortion clinic, Planned Parenthood, the Little Rock Family Planning clinic, all of them completely shut down in our state. Life is precious and it should be protected,” Rapert said.
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.
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Recently, however, Hutchinson, a pro-life Republican, expressed hesitancy about the bill, saying he wants to wait for “Supreme Court guidance.” Earlier this month, the Supreme Court considered the Biden administration’s request to temporarily block the Texas law, but it has not ruled yet.
Rapert told KUAR News that Arkansas should move forward with the legislation anyway.
“We’ll have to see what he thinks now,” Rapert said. “He cited the bill that I’m planning to run when he decided to postpone here a few weeks ago and wanted to see what the Supreme Court might do. Well, the Supreme Court has heard the arguments related to the Texas civil cause of action and still not done anything to stop Texas. And so at this point we’re full steam ahead.”
Hutchinson is expected to call a special legislative session soon to consider tax cuts and potentially the pro-life bill.
The need to protect unborn babies in Arkansas is growing.
According to the local news, Planned Parenthood just expanded abortions in the state: Its Rogers facility now sells medical, or chemical, abortions up to 10 weeks of pregnancy.
During a virtual press conference Wednesday, Planned Parenthood Great Plains CEO Emily Wales said they will do everything they can to fight an abortion ban in Arkansas.
Arkansas lawmakers passed a similar heartbeat law, the Arkansas Unborn Child Protection Act (Senate Bill 6), by a strong majority in March. However, the abortion industry sued, and 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.