This Week in the War on Women, Arkansas Edition

The Arkansas State Senate is to consider an extreme anti-abortion measure, Senate Bill 134, which progressed out of committee by voice vote.

The state Senate’s Public Health, Welfare and Labor committee just approved a bill that restricts abortions in any case where a fetal heartbeat could be detected. For those not up on their gestational timeline, a heartbeat can be present as early as six weeks. That’s sooner than a great number of women even know they are pregnant, particularly in cases of unexpected pregnancies (you know, the people most likely to consider an abortion.) That’s sooner than most fetal abnormalities or conditions — the kind that could be inhumanely damaging or fatal to a baby carried to term — can be detected. Basically, it’s a laughably impractical cut-off point for abortions. It’s not supposed to be practical. On its feet, this law would effectively represent a complete ban of abortions in Arkansas.

Six weeks results in two nefarious outcomes.  One, in order to detect a fetal heartbeat that early in gestation requires an insultingly invasive procedure. As a bonus, if a heartbeat is detected, the woman loses control over her body. Second, it’s not uncommon to be unaware one is pregnant that early, resulting in “a near total ban”.

The sponsor, Sen. Jason Rapert, believes that such a restriction is consistent with Casey. My instinct disagrees, but in the nearly 21 years since Casey was decided the composition of federal courts has changed somewhat.  Even if challenged, the state Senator remains undaunted:

There was one time in this nation that it was legal to enslave African-Americans; it was constitutional. There was one time in this nation when women could not vote; it was constitutional. There’s a time when you have to stand up for what is right.

I know I’m going out on a limb here, but I doubt we would have found State Senator Rapert at the vanguard of either the Abolitionism or Suffragette movements.

….[Erik] The good Sen. Rapert is indeed an open racist as well.

120 comments on this post.
  1. c u n d gulag:

    What’s next?
    A law requiring women to report to their nearest state health agency immediately after they have heterosexual intercourse, so that they can be kept under observation there until the government can prove that there’s no fetus growing in them?

    What’ll they call it, “Schtupp, Store, and Release?”

    What am I doing?

    Some idiot in some state legislature, or in our US Congress, will read what I wrote, and think it has real merit, and not just another lame gag!
    Thank goodness they don’t read LG&M!!!

  2. oldster:

    “I doubt we would have found State Senator Rapert at the vanguard of either the Abolitionism or Suffragette movements”

    That’s my guess, too. But it really doesn’t matter. Even if the guy is as pure as the driven snow on race and the franchise, he is wrong and wronger about abortion.

    You know, part of the problem with abortion politics is that not every anti-abortion maniac is reliably monstrous on all causes. Sure, a lot of them tick all the boxes–racist, homophobic, christianist, creationist, denialist, etc. etc.

    But then you’ve got the a few otherwise decent people who think they get to control women’s bodies. Maybe not on every issue, but on this one. Some of them are even women themselves!

    I don’t know–I suppose I’m not really disagreeing with you. I just think that the reflex sentiment that anyone who is monstrous on abortion must be demonstrably unsound on race etc. is a species of self-consolation that is too often proved false.

    And it’s not needed: this guy isn’t wrong and hateful because he just said something racist. What he said (and advocated for), all on its own, is a sufficient grounds for condemnation.

  3. PattyP:

    Maybe Savita Halappanavar’s kin could come have a word with him about the dangers of prohibiting abortion when there’s a fetal heartbeat.

  4. TT:

    Does this mean that state and local police in Arkansas will be deployed en masse to investigate each and every miscarriage that occurs there? I mean, how can we really be sure that it was a “miscarriage” anyway? Take the woman at her word?! Ha!

  5. dave brockington:

    FWIW, I don’t assume that being wrong on issue X deterministically makes one wrong on issues Y and Z. If he hadn’t compared his “struggle” with the abolitionism or suffragette movements, I wouldn’t have written a word on it (or thought about it). But he did, which got me wondering about the probability of a white middle aged state politician from Arkansas supporting freeing the slaves between 1820 and 1860, or coming out in favour of the franchise for women between 1880 and 1920. I don’t know that number with any certainty, but it’s not large.

    A friend of mine is a Jesuit priest. One day a couple Christmases ago back home we had a few beers in a pub, and enjoyed a wide ranging discussion: theology, faith, politics . . . typical bar talk. Of course he’s wrong on abortion, and not just because it’s good for his career. He believes it. But in the aggregate, he’s not wrong about much, nor did I assume he was.

  6. oldster:

    Yeah, fair enough–he invited the comparison, it was not just a “reflex sentiment” on your part.

    I guess part of what I was reaching for is this idea: that we should start treating people who deny reproductive rights to women as ipso facto not decent people, without having to look for further evidence.

    I mean, we do not say of someone “he’s a virulent racist but an otherwise decent person”. (Maybe we’d say it of some historical figures, e.g. periods of Lincoln’s biography–maybe).
    We don’t say “he favors killing all the jews, but he’s an otherwise decent person.”

    Those positions are sufficient, all by themselves, to get you read out of the list of candidates for basic decency.

    But other parts of my comment actually undermined that very thought.

    On abortion rights, we still waffle and dither (or at least I did above). We are reluctant to take the step of saying: actively working to deny the reproductive rights of women makes you ipso facto an enemy of humanity, on a par with racists and anti-semites.

    So I guess my comment was also intended as the thought: let’s move from saying “he denies reproductive rights–he probably does even worse things, too, like racism!” to saying “he denies abortion rights–that’s as bad as racism.”

    But I also concede that my comment was off-base as a response to you, for the reasons you outline.

  7. Scott P.:

    Senator “Rapert”? Really? Even Dickens would find that name too insultingly obvious.

  8. John:

    Doesn’t Arkansas still have a Democratic governor? Beebe seems to be a bit of a fence-straddler on abortion, but it seems unlikely he’d sign something like this.

  9. cpinva:

    i could not possibly disagree with you more.

    “I guess part of what I was reaching for is this idea: that we should start treating people who deny reproductive rights to women as ipso facto not decent people, without having to look for further evidence.”

    by definition, it makes them not decent people. anyone who believes they have the right to decide, for an entire class of people, what they shall do with their bodies, absent some legal contractual agreement, immediately loses any moral standing they have, period.

  10. cpinva:

    don’t bet the rent money on it. beebe just only barely qualifies as a democrat. if he thinks it might get squashed by the courts later, thus saving him the embarassment of actually having to enforce it, he’ll sign the bill. gets/keeps a few fundie nutjob votes for him.

  11. ajay:

    I think you’re actually agreeing with him?

  12. LeeEsq:

    I think that one of the few advantages of legalizing abortion through legislation rather than a court decision is that abortion through legislation would give a more concrete definition of what exactly is and isn’t allowed. This means it will be less likely to fall into this sort of wankery among abortion opponents.

  13. JL:

    Also, it’s not uncommon for abortions to be more expensive before six weeks. I guess the fetus being so small makes it a little harder to do or something, but I don’t actually know. The abortion fund that I volunteer for doesn’t work with people who won’t be at least six weeks along by the time of the abortion unless there are extenuating circumstances (e.g. domestic violence), because it’s sometimes more expensive and they have plenty of time to find more money (we cannot afford to just pay the whole cost of everyone’s abortion). I think of 6-8 weeks as being “normal” – it’s where most of the people I talk to about abortion funding are.

  14. catclub:

    Another win for nominative determinism. And ‘win’ is the worst possible result here.

  15. eukaryote:

    Beebe is a democrat, in the sense that Romney was a republican (during his time in Massachusetts, before tacking right to get national votes). But he’s term-limited, and he has professed to have no future political plans.

  16. ExpatJK:

    Please, this doesn’t go far enough. 6 weeks is early – you could miss some “miscarriages” (which as everyone knows are just attempts by evil abortion-loving women to thwart God’s/Republican will). The only solution: all women must report to a newly created Board of Child Protection once they begin their periods. Periods will be tracked with inspections as required. That’ll stop those lying girls, and this should in no way be interpreted as an expansion of government. Only a small government would do this, uh huh.

    The scary part is I can actually imagine some TP/GOP legislator getting here someday…

  17. DrDick:

    Sadly, they are hardly alone in this. North Dakota is following a similar path.

  18. FLRealist:

    I would guess that he thinks she did what she should have done – give her life for the sake of the baby, and if both die, oh well. I have found that extreme ant-abortion people tend not to care one iota about the woman or her health.

  19. DrDick:

    Sounds like it to me.

  20. DrDick:

    Time for the menstrual police!

  21. MAJeff:

    I am so glad I left that place, and even happier that I never have to return.

  22. dave brockington:

    in my quick researching job on this, i came across an article (might be linked in the post) where the governor went on the record as not taking a position on this bill yet, but considering it blah blah. So he had a chance to go on the record flat out rejecting it, and didn’t.

  23. oldster:

    `Take some more tea,’ the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly.

    `I’ve had nothing yet,’ Alice replied in an offended tone, `so I can’t take more.’

    `You mean you can’t take less,’ said the Hatter: `it’s very easy to take more than nothing.’

  24. ExpatJK:

    The new job creators?

  25. FLRealist:

    My mother worked in nursing before Roe vs Wade, and while she personally was against abortion, she wholeheartedly approved of making abortion legal. Some of the stories she told me about her young patients and the horrible things they did/had done to them in order to self-abort is horrific.

    People trying to restrict or ban abortions are naive. Rich women will always have access to safe procedures (I remember one friend flying to Europe); poor women will seek out back alley practitioners or herbalists.

  26. Winchester:

    Abortion is not morally neutral, nor is it contingent on the circumstances.

    Let’s say a poor woman who lives in an urban slum gets pregnant. She looks around and sees a terrible environment. She knows that her child will be raised fatherless. She knows that the odds of her child escaping the grasp of the gang-bangers and the socialist overlords are very slim. What should she do?

    If the mother aborts the baby, the baby can never go to Heaven, which is what God created the child for. In order to achieve Heaven, a person must be born and baptized, and die in a state of grace.

    No matter how long the odds seem, that baby is born with Heaven within grasp. That’s why abortion is EVIL: it deprives a human being of that chance; it’s MURDER.

  27. The Dark Avenger:

    Or the child once it makes it out of the womb intact. Then you get K-Lo(athsome) complaining about single women thinking the government is their boyfriend.

  28. FLRealist:

    If your God is so hateful that he prohibits an infant from heaven because some man hasn’t performed a ritual over him, then I am glad I walked away from the church.

  29. The Dark Avenger:

    I’d like some apple pancakes, with karo syrup, if you could………..

  30. MAJeff:

    For xmas, my sisters Alabamian boyfriend gave me some sorghum syrup. Been wondering what to do with it. Maybe over pancakes!

  31. MAJeff:

    What cute nonsense.

  32. ExpatJK:

    Just think of all those hellbound miscarried foetuses. Apparently God did not create them for Heaven?

  33. MAJeff:

    He always has been a bit of a sadistic asshole.

  34. Linnaeus:

    Let’s say a poor woman who lives in an urban slum gets pregnant. She looks around and sees a terrible environment. She knows that her child will be raised fatherless. She knows that the odds of her child escaping the grasp of the gang-bangers and the socialist overlords are very slim. What should she do?

    If the mother aborts the baby, the baby can never go to Heaven, which is what God created the child for. In order to achieve Heaven, a person must be born and baptized, and die in a state of grace.

    I wonder where the ones who walk away from Omelas go?

  35. FLRealist:

    Not so cute, really. I’m leaning toward foaming-at-the-mouth, batshit delusional myself.

  36. sharculese:

    Nobody cares, you self-righteous, panty-sniffing creep.

  37. ExpatJK:


    On a different note, I like the creative juxtaposition of urban slum, gang-bangers, and socialist overlords. So many right wing memes in one place.

  38. delurking:

    Arkansas Democrats are (in general) actually Republicans. There are complicated reasons for calling themselves Democrats, most of which escape me (I’ve only lived in the state 20 years now, off and on). It’s one of those codes, like Bless your heart. But everyone (on the Right) who votes for them knows they can expect them to do the right (uh, Right) thing.

  39. rm:

    There is only one true syrup, and that is Maple. Anything else is an abomination. And Cairo (“karo”) is a mean old town.

  40. delurking:

    This *has* to be parody.

    Can we get a vote?

  41. DrDick:

    Actually, your God does not condemn abortion. That is nowhere in the Bible and abortion is not even mentioned or alluded to in the New Testament. The only references to it, both in the Pentateuch, do not support your position at all. Exodus 21:22 says that causing a miscarriage is NOT an injury or crime. The Halakha also holds that abortion is permitted. Numbers 18-28 specifically calls for adulterous women to be given an abortifacient.

  42. sharculese:

    This response is way over Jenny’s head, and he would be outraged at the implication that he’s read something written by a woman if he had any idea what you were talking about.

  43. The Lord God Jehovah:

    Dude, I’m not the asshole that you seem to think I AM. Always projection with you folk that seem so sure of My Will. Did you not pay attention to the teachings of the Rabbi Jeshua? Must you always read to much into Paul? I do understand why you might find solace in reading a self-hating homosexual, but I love you just the way I created you.

  44. The Dark Avenger:

    Would you quit with using the facts and evidence, DrDick? Obviously the Bible is against abortion because Winchester is a Christian and therefore everything he believes is in the Bible, period.

  45. Malaclypse:

    He’s real, and he’s Dagney. That’s my vote.

  46. Linnaeus:

    You’re probably right. But it seemed fitting.

  47. mpowell:

    If you take most fundamentalists at their word, far more than just a bit.

  48. DocAmazing:

    Let me know when you wanna abandon the Big God argument and try out the Big Science argument. That shit always leaves me in stitches.

  49. JC:

    Damn straight, Dad.

    Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

    And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

  50. John:

    I don’t see how that’s really true. The two recent Democratic Senators from Arkansas (Pryor and Lincoln) have both been annoying, but neither is a Ben Nelson or Joe Manchin type. Arkansas Democrats are certainly more conservative than national Democrats, but the actual crazy right wing ones are Republicans now. And Beebe’s position on abortion seems to be comparable to Anthony Kennedy’s. If he hasn’t said he’ll veto yet, obviously that’s cause for concern, but why alienate anyone over a bill that may not get out of the legislature?

  51. oldster:

    And stop averting your eyes! It’s like those miserable psalms–so depressing. Now knock it off!

  52. BigHank53:

    Hey, not their problem anymore. Jesus’ll take care of ‘em.

  53. sharculese:

    Yeah, I know I said upthread it was Jenny, but I just remembered Jenny’s shtick is pretending to be moderately pro-choice but just horrified and aggrieved by all those sluts getting abortions for fun.

  54. Karen:

    I have often asked antis how the law should treat miscarriages and I have never gotten a response. We should hammer them on this constantly.

  55. JKTHs:

    I think Pryor has been a Ben Nelson type but Joe Manchin takes being a conservative Democrat to a whole ‘nother level.

  56. Tim:

    Hello Dave! I’m confused by your voiced concern over an “insultingly invasive” way of finding the baby’s heartbeat when abortion is “insultingly invasive” to a baby’s body and life. You also said, the woman has now lost “control”over her body; I must ask you if she was in “control” of her body when she had the sexual relations to create this baby? I’m sorry, but again you have shown the hypocrisy of the “pro-choice” movement.

  57. Liam:

    You know what’s not morally neutral? Believing other people should be legally compelled to obey the magical rules you think are necessary to achieve the afterlife you imagine must exist.

  58. sharculese:

    Yeah, I mean why can’t abortion rights advocates spend more time stammering about dirty fucking sluts like I want them to!

  59. Liam:

    Your confusion only makes sense if you belive that consenting to penetration at one specific time means you can never withdraw consent for any future penetration. Ever had a prostate exam, Tim?

  60. Rabbi Jeshua bin Joseph:

    Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

  61. sharculese:

    Getting the forced-birthers to understand consent is pretty much a lost cause, as it’s a concept their basically opposed to.

  62. oldster:

    You’re confused, alright.

    Some things (e.g. people) can be insultingly invaded. Some things (e.g. dumpsters, New Jersey, liver carcinomas, and six-week fetuses) cannot.

    To assume that whatever is true of people is true of fetuses is already to assume what you have not established. You lose.

    I’m sorry, but again you have shown the stupidity of the anti-woman movement.

  63. sharculese:

    Well, yeah, it is.

  64. DrDick:

    Or a colonoscopy?

  65. Rodney Dangerfield:

    Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

    You mean I’ve got to jerk him off, too?

  66. JMP:

    Abortions are also evil because they make the unicorns cry! Seriously, if you have to rely on silly fantasy stories to justify your political position, then maybe there’s a bit of a problem with the position.

  67. JMP:

    A fetus is not a baby, moron.

  68. R. Porrofatto:

    What also makes these Koch-funded teratogenics “not decent people” is their desire to force women to give birth while almost never voting to, say, increase Medicaid funds for pre-natal care. It’s what makes their “pro-life” posturing even more cynical — their anti-abortion histrionics are purely to gain votes and money, or just to score points against liberals and women. Not to mention causing a lot of suffering.

  69. spencer:

    Yeah, that’s a completely evil and antihuman philosophy. And you’re a horrible person if you really believe in it.

  70. The Dark Avenger:

    Do not love your neighbor as yourself. If you are on good terms with yourself it is an impertinence: if on bad, an injury.

  71. The Dark Avenger:

    Do you like gladiator movies, Tim?

  72. spencer:

    I must ask you if she was in “control” of her body when she had the sexual relations to create this baby

    Maybe, maybe not. It depends on the circumstances of a particular conception, and is nonetheless completely irrelevant in any case.

  73. JKTHs:

    OT, but in other wingnut news…

  74. Scott Lemieux:

    I’m voting for parody. It’s certainly not JenBob.

  75. Winchester:

    Unborn babies (or even a born and yet unbaptized baby) murdered by their own, evil mothers do not go to hell; they have committed no sin. Their fate can’t be hell. They go to the Limbo of the Innocents.

  76. sharculese:

    Of all the creepy ass things you and your panty-sniffing cohort do, co-opting murder, a word you most clearly do not understand, is down near the bottom, but good lord is it frustrating watching you try to play your preschool word games.

  77. Hogan:

    How low can you go?

  78. John:

    Pryor gave no trouble whatever to Obama in the first two years that I can recall.

  79. John:

    Even the Catholic Church doesn’t really believe in the Limbo of the Innocents anymore. So this is pure trolling, right?

  80. gocart mozart:

    Shorter:National “Socialist” Review: At least Hitler wasn’t black so he had that going for him.

  81. Winchester:

    The Church has been infiltrated by socialist-homosexualists hell-bent to destroy the Church from the inside.

    Everything the Church has published since 1968 is mostly Novus Ordo junk.

  82. Winchester:

    Our Lord condemns MURDER. And abortion IS murder, obviously.

  83. MAJeff:

    No, not obviously.

  84. The Golux:

    One wonders if this clown added a “t” to the end of his real last name to make it more respectable.

  85. MAJeff:

    What baby?

  86. sharculese:

    Murder is a word, kiddo. It has a meaning, and part of that meaning is ‘unlawful’.

    You don’t get to redefine words just because you can’t argue your point without doing so.

  87. Malaclypse:

    The Bronze Age myths you cite also condemn the eating of shellfish, as well as the wearing of mixed fibers. They also contain very specific requirements for how you treat the poor.

  88. GeoX:

    Definitely a parody. There may have been some doubt at first, but at this point it’s just such a mash-up of hyperbolic versions of every wingnut meme that it’s impossible to take seriously. I’d be amazed if he actually believes anything he writes.

  89. Malaclypse:

    1968? It all went literally to hell with the Abomination that is the filioque.

  90. Bill Murray:

    isn’t there something about foetus’ getting ripped from the womb at the second coming, so don’t be preggers then? I think that’s the jist of Matthew 24 as it relates to “them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!” “as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”

  91. Bill Murray:

    Hitler also accomplished a lot of stuff and don’t we wish he hadn’t

  92. DrDick:

    Except that Exodus 21:22 explicitly says it is not. Read that damned book of yours sometime. I have (cover to cover). You do not even know what is in you sacred texts, let alone anything else.

  93. DrDick:

    As upheld by the Halakha.

  94. Winchester:

    yes it is, it is an unborn baby, an unborn HUMAN BEING.

  95. Malaclypse:

    Shocking that we don’t have funerals for miscarriages. But your bold usage of CAPS LOCK has made me realize that someone like you should not need to present any actual evidence.

  96. thebewilderness:

    We hear it all the time. He may be a mass murderer but he was such a good quiet neighbor and he loved his family so he can’t be all bad.
    It isn’t a balancing act where if you want to strip the civil rights from this group of people but not that group it all balances out and you are an OK d00d.
    If you want to strip the civil rights from any group of people you just failed at decent human being 101.

  97. DrDick:

    Not according to the law of your God (the Halakha), which quite clearly holds that life begins at birth (affirmed by the Orthodox Rabbinate).

  98. DrDick:

    This was meant to be a reply to JMP.

  99. Uncle Ebeneezer:

    Well, he’s very generous with the spoils of war.

  100. Hogan:

    So what does the Halakha have to say about gladiator movies?

  101. thebewilderness:

    Listen Winchester. If you have a problem with the 30 to 50 percent of fertile eggs that are spontaneously aborted you need to take it up with God. Until then you have no business claiming that those who were created in the image of God are murderers because they induce that which is perfectly natural when spontaneous.
    Srsly d00d, God’s Book disagrees with you. Guess what that makes you?
    Matthew 7:15
    Beware of false prophets which come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

  102. thebewilderness:

    From the looks of it this bill makes ectopic pregnancies a death sentence. That will ratchet up the maternal mortality rate in the US once again.

  103. Malaclypse:

    No loincloths of mixed fibers.

  104. DrDick:

    For many of these troglodytes, that is a feature, not a bug.

  105. DrDick:

    Man shall not lie with man as with a woman?

  106. DrDick:

    Got to find something for all those anti-abortion activist to do after they ban the procedure or they will get into some serious mischief.

  107. Malaclypse:

    Bob Jones University Dress Code Inspector.

  108. Emma in Sydney:

    It’s not even possible to have a surgical abortion before 8 weeks in Australia, despite it being legal. Doctors won’t do them because of the risk of missing such a tiny sac. I speak from experience– had to wait two weeks.

  109. Emma in Sydney:

    I and you didn’t answer the question about your god’s plans for the 25% of pregnancies that end in spontaneous miscarriage. Bad day? Shaking god-hands? God hangover? Or just like kids burning ants with a magnifying glass?

  110. sharculese:

    Or just like kids burning ants with a magnifying glass?

    Given that this one’s already a pretty large chunk of the Old Testament…

  111. wengler:

    This isn’t a theocracy. Abortion rights are a Constitutionally-protected civil right, just like the freedom of religion.

    If you really believe this stuff, then you will be having an eternal last laugh, will you not? So feel free to wait.

  112. thebewilderness:

    I think you are right. I keep expecting them to introduce a bill that asserts their religious right to stone uppity women to death.

  113. wengler:

    I’m willing to guess that Arkansas is already on the high end of terrible for maternal mortality.

  114. shah8:

    Seriously, guys, don’t default into national figures. State and local figures as per topic.

  115. ExpatJK:

    In the words of Jack Nicholson as the Joker:

    “Now you fellas have said some pretty mean things. Some of which *were* true under that fiend, Boss Grissom. He *was* a thief, and a terrorist. On the other hand he had a tremendous singing voice.”

  116. Pestilence:


  117. Manta:

    The moral and theological problem is indeed compelling.
    Luckily, there is a simple solution: baptize the child while he is still in the womb, and then abort him

  118. The Dark Avenger:

    No shrimp!

  119. DrDick:

    Or bacon!

  120. DocAmazing:

    Hey, they bent over backwards to accommodate Limbo.

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