Legislation & Lobbying

Sponsor of new fetal heartbeat law in Arkansas hopes to 'awaken the nation'

The success of a “fetal heartbeat” law passed in Arkansas last week is encouraging abortion opponents to pursue similar legislation in other states.

Legislators in Arkansas overrode the governor’s veto and passed the most restrictive abortion law in the country, the New York Times reports. According to the Times, the law bans most abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy, a time when a fetal heartbeat is typically detected.

Proposed bills in a handful of other states would ban abortions when doctors detect heartbeats, rather than impose a 12-week threshold, the Times says. Lawmakers in Ohio, Kansas and North Dakota are considering fetal heartbeat laws, and some backers believe they have a good chance of winning approval. Similar measures in Kentucky, Mississippi and Wyoming aren’t as far along in the legislative process.

The sponsor of the Arkansas law, Republican State Sen. Jason Rapert, told the Times that the state “made a significant statement” with passage of the law. “Hopefully we can awaken the nation,” he said. His approach stands in contrast to a more incremental strategy by the nation’s largest anti-abortion groups that are pushing for measures such as longer waiting periods and required sonograms.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights plan a constitutional challenge to the Arkansas law.

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