Arkansas Republicans have pushed yet another anti-abortion bill through the state Senate. Only days have passed since the GOP dominated legislature overrode Governor Mike Beebe’s veto of a 12 week abortion ban, which is now the toughest abortion law in the country. Now, Republicans are getting even more aggressive.
A new bill, known as SB 417, has been passed unanimously in the Senate that would effectively criminalize all abortions and the use of some forms of birth control by declaring that life begins at conception.
The Arkansas News Bureau reports that,
“Sen. Jim Hendren, R-Gravette, sponsor of Senate Bill 417, said the proposal would make it a crime to harm an unborn child from conception to birth. Currently, state law allows for criminal prosecution of someone who harms a fetus 12 weeks or later into pregnancy. Hendren told the Senate before the vote on his bill that it had nothing to do with abortion. “This bill gives the same protections to the woman and the child,” he said. SB 417 passed 35-0 and goes to the House.”
Despite Hengren’s claim that his bill has “nothing to do with abortion,” that’s exactly what it’s about. Under the bill, having an abortion at any time would be considered a criminal act. Hengren even admits that his bill makes it a crime to harm the unborn. So claiming that the bill has nothing to do with abortion is a flat lie. Because the bill declares that harming the unborn from conception to birth is a crime, the bill would also outlaw some forms of contraception.
The bill has already passed the Senate by a unanimous vote. Not even the 12 week ban passed with such a tally. If it passes the House by a large margin as well, it sets up a third showdown with Democratic Governor Mike Beebe who will likely veto the bill. Then the legislature will most certainly override his veto, setting up court battles that will end in the US Supreme Court where the bill should be declared unconstitutional based on 40 years of precedent. Such court battles will cost Arkansas taxpayers dearly because they already have to pick up the tab to defend two other unconstitutional measures.
Arkansas has already passed a 20 week ban and a 12 week ban on abortion. Now they’re seeking to ban the procedure entirely, which would completely eliminate reproductive rights for women across the state. Women could actually face jail time for making a reproductive decision that is anything other than being pregnant. It strips women of all choice and forces them to carry unwanted pregnancies. It would be far worse than any anti-abortion law passed in the nation already. It makes one wonder why women would choose to live in Arkansas at all.