January 30, 2013 — Arkansas Sen. Jason Rapert (R) this week introduced legislation (SB 134) that would prohibit abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detectable, which could be as early as six weeks of pregnancy, the AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
The bill would require that a woman seeking an abortion first undergo a test to try to detect a fetal heartbeat. The legislation would not prohibit abortion in cases of rape, incest or if a woman's life is in danger.
Under the bill, a provider convicted of providing an abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detectable could be charged with a class D felony and face a six-year maximum prison sentence and a $10,000 fine. Women would not be charged.
Rapert, who believes the bill could withstand a court challenge, said he might present the issue to the Senate Public Health Committee as early as this week. Eighteen of the Senate's 35 members are co-sponsors, the AP/Journal-Constitution reports.
Planned Parenthood of the Heartland officials called the measure "extreme" and pledged to fight it. Murry Newbern, a lobbyist and policy analyst for the group, said, "There are many possible outcomes of pregnancy, including fetal development issues that cannot be detected in the first six weeks." A pregnant woman who develops complications would be left "without legal medical options to save her life," Newbern added (DeMillo, AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 1/28).
Repro Health Watch — an exciting new edition of the Women’s Health Policy Report — compiles and distributes media coverage of proposed and enacted state laws and ballot initiatives affecting women's access to comprehensive reproductive health care, as well as litigation in response to those provisions.