House Panel Rejects Fetal Heartbeat Bill

February 19, 2013 — The Arkansas House Public Health Committee on Thursday rejected an amended version of a bill (SB 134) that would have banned abortion after 12 weeks of pregnancy if a fetal heartbeat is detectable, the AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

The initial version of the measure passed out of committee the previous week, but its sponsors amended it to add exemptions for medical emergencies and when the fetus has a fatal disorder. The bill already included exceptions for rape, incest and to save a woman's life. The amended version also replaced a provision that would have allowed criminal charges against doctors who violate the requirements with a process to revoke their medical licenses.

State Rep. Ann Clemmer (R), one of the bill's sponsors, said the new version failed because some supporters were not present at the meeting and others objected to the changes in the final bill. She said, "I think they were making a statement by saying, we shouldn't make exceptions even in those cases."

Committee Chair John Burris (R) said the legislation likely will be brought up for consideration again on Tuesday (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 2/14).