The abortion restriction, like many others passed in Republican states in recent years, is part of a conservative effort to prompt the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark case that guarantees a woman’s right to abortion.
The Arkansas abortion ban makes no exceptions in cases of rape or incest, and goes further than abortion restrictions passed in South Carolina and other states, which banned the procedure starting at six weeks into a pregnancy.
Alabama is the only state to have recently passed a similarly sweeping anti-abortion policy, when the state made it a felony for doctors to perform abortions except to save a mother’s life in 2019. That law was struck down in federal court.
Governor (R) Asa Hutchinson made no bones about the intent of the bill:
“(The ban) is in contradiction of binding precedents of the U.S. Supreme Court, but it is the intent of the legislation to set the stage for the Supreme Court overturning current case law,” he said in a statement released by his office. “I would have preferred the legislation to include the exceptions for rape and incest, which has been my consistent view, and such exceptions would increase the chances for a review by the U.S.Supreme Court.”
The legislation won’t take effect until 90 days after the majority-Republican Legislature adjourns this year’s session. That means it can’t be enforced until this summer at the earliest. Abortion rights supporters said they plan to challenge the ban in court before then.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas called the ban “cruel and unconstitutional.”