Modified Arkansas Heartbeat Ban Heads to Senate, Then Governor

The Arkansas House has voted to ban all abortions after the point in which a fetal heartbeat can be detected, a move that will now send the bill back to the Senate for a vote and then to the governor’s desk.

The “heartbeat ban” has had a tumultuous trip through the state legislature after being proposed by Sen. Jason Rapert, who originally offered a bill with no exceptions, banning abortion as soon as an embryonic heartbeat could be detected via vaginal ultrasound. After pushback on the invasive forced vaginal ultrasound portion of the bill, Sen. Rapert eventually reintroduced his bill with an abdominal ultrasound requirement, a move that would add a few weeks back to the period in which a woman could terminate a pregnancy.

“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,” responded Nancy Northup, President of Center for Reproductive Rights, in a statement on the bill. “This extreme ban on 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.”
The Center for Reproductive Rights urged Democratic Governor Mike Beebe to veto the bill should it reach his desk. However, a veto could be overridden by a simple majority in both the House and the Senate.

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