An Arkansas Senate panel advanced one of the most restrictive anti-abortion proposal in the nation on Wednesday.
The bill would prohibit abortion after fetal heart tones can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks of pregnancy. The legislation contains exceptions in cases of rape, incest and if a mother's life is in danger.
The Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee approved the bill by a voice vote. The legislation is currently sponsored by 19 of the 35 members in the Republican-dominated state Senate.
“This bill is bad for Arkansas women and their families," said Murry Newbern of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland. "It is vital that a woman be able to make her own personal, private decisions about her health and medical care with the consultation of her doctor, her faith, and her family. The reality is each woman's health care needs are different. That's why it is important that abortion remains safe and legal for a woman in Arkansas if and when she needs it.
Newbern said the state would end up spending "millions of tax dollars in legal battles attempting to defend a bill that is unconstitutional." In its landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court held that a woman has the right to terminate her pregnancy until the fetus is viable outside the womb. A fetus is typically viable after 24-28 weeks.
Similar legislation has also been introduced in the North Dakota legislature.