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.