February 25, 2013 — The Arkansas House on Thursday approved a bill (HB 1037) that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, as well as a separate measure (SB 134) that would ban most abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy if a fetal heartbeat is detectable, Reuters reports.
Lawmakers voted 80-10 in favor of the 20-week bill, which now goes to Gov. Mike Beebe (D). Beebe has raised concerns about the measure's constitutionality but has not said whether he will veto it.
The measure would not permit exceptions when the fetus has a fatal disorder. However, it would allow exceptions for rape, incest or to save the life of the woman.
Matt DeCample, a spokesperson for Beebe, said the governor will decide this week whether he will sign the bill. Several states have passed similar measures, although some are facing court challenges.
Fetal Heartbeat Bill
House lawmakers voted 68-20 to approve the bill that would ban most abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy if a fetal heartbeat is detectable. If enacted, it would be the most stringent abortion restriction in the U.S., according to abortion-rights advocates (Parker, Reuters, 2/21). The bill would permit exceptions in cases of rape, incest or to save a woman's life.
The bill now returns to the Senate, which approved an earlier version. The final House measure includes amendments that removed criminal penalties for doctors and added an exemption for cases in which the fetus has a fatal disorder (Stratford, AP/San Antonio Express-News, 2/21).