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02.21.13 - (PRESS RELEASE) Today the Arkansas House of Representatives approved an amended version of SB 134, a measure banning all abortions at 12 weeks of pregnancy with only narrow exceptions in cases of rape, incest, lethal fetal anomalies, and to save the woman’s life.
The bill, which would be the earliest and most extreme abortion ban in the country, is now expected to head to Governor Mike Beebe’s desk if the Senate approves the House’s version of the bill.
Nancy Northup, president and CEO at the Center for Reproductive Rights, called on the State Senate and Governor Beebe to reject the bill:
“Let’s call this bill what it is: bumper-sticker message legislation with no chance of standing up in court, designed to dial the clock back 40 years on women’s rights.
“This extreme ban will either force women already facing tough economic circumstances to travel to a neighboring state to access constitutionally-protected health care or to turn to dangerous, clandestine options that could ruin or even end their lives.
“We strongly urge Governor Beebe to veto this archaic bill and send a strong statement to the anti-choice politicians in the Arkansas Legislature that this law is a gross violation of women’s constitutional rights.”
The Arkansas House also voted to send HB 1037 to Governor Beebe’s desk, another extreme anti-abortion bill banning abortions at 20 weeks post-fertilization. The Center for Reproductive Rights plans to send letters urging the governor to veto both bills.
The U.S. Supreme Court has consistently held—first in Roe v. Wade and again in Planned Parenthood v. Casey—that states cannot ban abortion prior to viability.
Last year, lawmakers in Ohio failed to pass early bans on abortion based on the detection of fetal heart tones—which can be as early as five or six weeks—after raising concerns about the likely legal battle over the law’s constitutionality. Although similar measures have been introduced already this year in North Dakota and Mississippi, no state has ever passed such a bill.