It seems like the attack on uteri and sexual freedom alike will never end what with Mississippi down to one last abortion clinic, ridiculous restrictions on morning-after pills, and endless proposals to restrict abortion and abortion access. But it’s a newly proposed bill in Arkansas that gives a whole new meaning to the word ‘extreme.’
The Arkansas House of Representatives approved a bill on Thursday that bans abortions after only 12 weeks of pregnancy if a fetal heartbeat is detected, with exceptions for rape, incest, the life of the mother, and highly lethal fetal disorders found before 12 weeks. The law, dubbed the ‘heartbeat bill,’ if passed, would be the most extreme abortion restriction in the country.
The Arkansas House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee also approved a Senate-passed bill that bans abortions at 20 weeks after conception. Both bills defy the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, which prevents states from banning abortions before the fetus is viable — usually between 22 and 24 weeks of gestation.
“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,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of legal advocacy group the Center for Reproductive 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.”
Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe (D) has expressed concerns that the 12-week ban is unconstitutional, but he has not said whether that will hinder him from signing it into law. “If it gets to me, then to a large extent I’ll be guided by that,” Beebe said to reporters earlier this month, to the discontent of women all over the country.
The original legislation banned abortion at six weeks, but the“compromise” lawmakers settled for moved the cutoff to 12 weeks. “We believe we have struck the proper balance,” said the bill’s sponsor Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Conway. “I’m asking you to stand up for life, and I believe when there is a heartbeat, based upon even the standard the Supreme Court has utilized, you cannot have a viable child without a heartbeat.”
So let’s disregard all respect for science, the Supreme Court, Roe vs. Wade, and the women of America because of a heartbeat?! How about you stand up for the lives of the women in your state and district? Even the ‘exceptions’ to this law make no medical sense, except for the cases of rape and incest, of course. Most highly lethal fetal disorders and/or risks to the mother’s life cannot be detected until much later in the pregnancy. Make no bones about it, this is a dangerous bill that has the potential to literally kill women, not to mention set women back 40 years of progress if is signed into law.
This seems to be the week for introducing extreme new measures against women. Oklahoma may deny women affordable birth control because it ‘poisons their bodies’, and an Indiana bill would force women to undergo two transvaginal probes to take an abortion-inducing pill. When will this trend against women’s control over their own bodies ever end? How far will anti-choice lawmakers go before we are officially back in the Stone Age?
*any use of the word ‘women’ or ‘woman’, etc. pertains to all those who consider themselves a woman, or bear a uterus