Sunday, March 10, 2013

Arkansas Bans Abortions After 12 Weeks

Arkansas adopted the country's most restrictive abortion ban at 12 weeks of pregnancy, which sharply challenges Roe v. Wade and Supreme Court limitations. The law, called the Human Heartbeat Protection Act, was sponsored by Republican Sen. Jason Rapert (right), who compared abortions in the U.S. to the Holocaust and Rwandan genocide. The Republican legislature overrode the veto of Gov. Mike Beebe, who said the ban was "blatantly unconstitutional." It is not expected to survive a legal challenge:

The law contradicts the limit established by Supreme Court decisions, which give women a right to an abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb, usually around 24 weeks into pregnancy, and abortion rights groups promised a quick lawsuit to block it. Even some anti-abortion leaders called the measure a futile gesture.

...“When is enough enough?” asked the bill’s sponsor in the legislature, Senator Jason Rapert, a Republican, who compared the more than 50 million abortions in the United States since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision to the Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide. “It’s time to take a stand.”

But abortion rights groups and many legal experts, including some in the anti-abortion movement, say the law so deeply contradicts existing constitutional doctrine that it may quickly be voided.

“The 12-week ban actually bars abortion within the first trimester,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights in New York. “It has no chance of surviving a court challenge.”

The center and the American Civil Liberties Union have vowed to bring a case in federal court, aiming to head off the law before it takes effect, 90 days after the legislature adjourns in the next month or so.

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