Gov. Mike Beebe vetoed the law but the all Republican legislation were able to move past it. The House enacted the bill by a vote of 55 to 33 with several Democrats joining the Republican side. The new law is in direct contradiction of the Supreme Court decision which gives a woman the right to an abortion until the fetus is viable out side the womb around 24 weeks of pregnant.
The law is dubbed "The Human Heartbeat Protection Act." and is the first victory for the state. Senator Jason Rapert, a 40 year old Republican stated that abortions are like the HOlocaust and the Rwandan genocide. "It is time to take a stand."
"The 12 week ban actually bars abortion within the first trimester, It has no chance of surviving a court challenge." Said Nancy Northup president of the center for reproductive rights in New York.
Right now 10 states have challenged the time limits for abortions down to 20 weeks in pregnancy. The theory is that the fetus can feel pain at that time. The 12 week ban in Arkansas would affect 12% of abortions nationwide. In Arkansas in 2011, 4,033 abortions were performed and according to the New York Times 676 of them were after 12 weeks.
There is only one clinic in Arkansas that performs surgical abortions. It is located in Little Rock and another is only offering medical abortions.
“It sets Arkansas back several decades in the eyes of the nation and the world,” said Rita Sklar, director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas. “ It shows an utter disregard for women and their ability to make important personal decisions about their own reproductive health.”