Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Tuesday signed into law legislation banning nearly all abortions in the state, a sweeping measure that supporters hope will force the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit its landmark Roe v. Wade decision but opponents vow to block before it takes effect later this year.
The Republican governor had expressed reservations about the bill, which only allows the procedure to save the life of the mother and does not provide exceptions for those impregnated by rape or incest. Arkansas is one of at least 14 states where legislators have proposed outright abortion bans this year.
The bans are being pushed by Republicans who want to force the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide. Conservatives believe the court is more open to striking down the decision following former President Donald Trump’s three appointments to the court.
Hutchinson has signed several major abortion restrictions into law since taking office in 2015, but he had voiced concerns that this bill directly challenges Roe and the lack of rape and incest exceptions.
The legislation won’t take effect until 90 days after the majority-Republican Legislature adjourns this year’s session. That means it can’t be enforced until this summer at the earliest. Abortion rights supporters said they plan to challenge the ban in court before then.
A controversial Texas bill that would punish people who abort unborn babies with the death penalty is getting a lot of national news attention even though it is unlikely to gain much support.
Sponsored by state Rep. Bryan Slaton, R-Royse City, House Bill 3326 would outlaw abortions by making the killing of an unborn baby a crime. Fox News reports violators would face criminal charges and could be punished with the death penalty, if convicted.
“The bill will end the discriminatory practice of terminating the life of innocent children, and will guarantee the equal protection of the laws to all Texans, no matter how small,” Slaton wrote Tuesday on Twitter.
NBC 2 Houston reports Texas lawmakers have introduced similar bills in the past, but they never advanced out of committee.
“It’s time Republicans make it clear that we actually think abortion is murder…” Slaton said. “Unborn children are dying at a faster rate in Texas than COVID patients, but Texas isn’t taking the abortion crisis seriously.”
Here’s more from Fox:
The bill filed Tuesday seeks to direct the state attorney general to enforce penalty charges for “assaultive offenses” and “criminal homicide” if an abortion is performed, regardless of any “contrary federal statute, regulation, treaty, order, or court decision.”
Though the bill did not account for instances of rape or incest, it did exempt life-threatening cases of ectopic pregnancies, where “a reasonable alternative to save the lives of both the mother and the unborn child is unavailable.”
While pro-lifers do want to end the killing of unborn babies in abortions, the vast majority oppose the punishing mothers, as Slaton’s bill would. Many oppose the death penalty as well.
The pro-life movement long has opposed punishing women who have abortions — instead focusing on holding abortion practitioners criminally accountable for the unborn children who they kill in abortions. Current abortion bans, such as the federal ban on partial-birth abortions, do not punish women who have abortions.
Instead, the movement takes a compassionate approach, understanding that women frequently are pressured or coerced into having an abortion and often are second victims of the abortion industry.
That is how states viewed the issue prior to Roe v. Wade, too, according to research by Clarke D. Forsythe, senior legal counsel for Americans United for Life.
In 2016, Forsythe wrote: “… there is a long record of states treating women as the second victim of abortion in the law that can be found and read. To state the policy in legal terms, the states prosecuted the principal (the abortionist) and did not prosecute someone who might be considered an accomplice (the woman) in order to more effectively enforce the law against the principal. And that will most certainly be the state policy if the abortion issue is returned to the states.”