LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) – Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson on Tuesday signed a law banning nearly all abortions in the state, a sweeping move that supporters hope will force the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider its ruling history Roe v. Wade, but opponents swear to block before it goes into effect later this year.
The Republican governor had expressed reservations on the bill, which only allows the procedure to save the mother’s life and does not provide for exceptions for those steeped in an act of rape or incest. Arkansas is one of at least 14 states where lawmakers have proposed a total abortion ban this year.
Hutchinson said he signed the bill because of his “overwhelming legislative support and my sincere, long-standing beliefs in life.”
The bans were pushed by Republicans who want to force the United States Supreme Court to reconsider its 1973 Roe v. Wade legalizing abortion nationwide. Conservatives believe the court is more willing to overturn the ruling following former President Donald Trump’s three appointments to the court.
“We must abolish abortion in this country just like we abolished slavery in the 19th century – all lives matter,” Republican Senator Jason Rapert, sponsor of the bill, said in a statement.
Hutchinson has signed several major restrictions on abortion since taking office in 2015, but he had expressed concerns that this bill directly challenges Roe and the lack of exceptions to rape and incest. He reiterated these concerns when announcing his decision.
“(The ban) is at odds with binding US Supreme Court precedents, but the intent of the legislation is to pave the way for the Supreme Court to overturn current case law,” he said. said in a statement released by his office. “I would have preferred the legislation to include the exceptions for rape and incest, which has always been my view, and such exceptions would increase the chances of a review by the United States Supreme Court.”
As lawmakers considered the measure, Hutchinson shared with lawmakers a letter written by an attorney for opponents of National Right to Life abortion that said the odds of the bill leading to Roe’s overturning were ” very weak and weak ”. National Right to Life did not take a position on the bill, although its Arkansas affiliate supported the ban.
The legislation will not come into effect until 90 days after the adjournment of this year’s session by the majority Republican legislature. This means that it can only be applied this summer at the earliest. Abortion rights advocates have said they plan to challenge the ban in court before that date.
The Arkansas Civil Liberties Union called the ban “cruel and unconstitutional.”
“Governor Hutchinson: We’ll see you in court,” Arkansas ACLU Executive Director Holly Dickson said.
“This is politics at its worst,” Alexis McGill Johnson, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in a statement. “At a time when people need economic aid and basic safety precautions, dismantling access to abortion is cruel, dangerous and blatantly unfair.”
Hutchinson had until Wednesday afternoon to take action on the bill before it became law without his signature, a move the former governors took to express their dissatisfaction with a bill without risking harm. fight against the Legislative Assembly. It takes a simple majority for the legislature to prevail over a governor’s veto in Arkansas.
Arkansas has some of the toughest abortion measures in the country and two years ago Hutchinson enacted a measure that would ban the procedure if the Roe decision was overturned. Another measure signed by Hutchinson in 2019 banning abortions after 18 weeks of pregnancy is on hold due to a legal challenge.
Several other restrictions are still under consideration in the Legislature, including one approved by the Senate a day earlier that would require a woman who has an abortion to have an ultrasound first.
Another sweeping abortion ban was enacted by the governor of South Carolina last month, but was quickly blocked by a federal judge due to a court challenge by Planned Parenthood. Alabama enacted a near-total abortion ban in 2019 that was blocked due to legal challenges.