Mississippi has already anounced that their bill to ban abortion as soon as an embryonic heartbeat can be detected is unlikely to get a vote, now that its own sponsor has decided not to bring it up for a committee hearing in the House. Now, Arkansas’ bill to ban abortion as early as six weeks may be getting the same treatment.
Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe previously stated that he was unsure if he would sign such a bill into law after learning that the bill is highly unconstitutional and very likely to end up challenged in the courts. Rep. Jason Rapert, the bill sponsor, is urging the House committee to hold a special meeting next week to discuss the ban, but according to Arkansas Business, Committee Leader John Burris has refused to set a time to do so, saying “he thought such a meeting was appropriate but needed to figure out its timing.”
The delay could be in part due to Attorney General Dustin McDaniel’s announcement that he still looking into the likelihood of a legal challenge, and Rep. Burris may just be waiting for more clarity from the governor as to whether he would sign or veto a bill if it did make it to his desk. Rep. Rapert isn’t taking any chances, however, and has now offered to switch the ban to when a heartbeat can be detected via abdominal ultrasound. That would likely add a few weeks before the ban would go into effect, but would still be well within the first trimester and likely unconstitutional.
Considering the languishing history of so many of these heartbeat bans so far, seeing the bill tabled for now is definitely a good sign. But with a bill sponsor scrambling so hard to get a vote, even if it means rewriting his bill, it’s still anyone’s guess if it might become law.