Urge Arkansas Not to Support Extreme Abortion Ban

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Target: Arkansas Legislature

Goal: Stop extreme abortion ban from becoming law in Arkansas

Lawmakers all over the country have drafted scores of anti-choice legislation that would severely limit a woman’s legal right to choose to seek an abortion. A proposed bill introduced in Arkansas this week would ban all abortion services after a fetal heartbeat is detected by a doctor. The ban would charge doctors who perform abortions after that cut-off with a Class D felony, punishable by up to six years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. A fetal heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks into pregnancy, before a woman may even know she is pregnant.

Republican State Senator Jason Rapert filed the legislation this week, and half of Arkansas’ state senators, 18 of the Senate’s 35 total members, have signed on as co-sponsors. “Heartbeat bills” have been attempted before, and represent an effort to arbitrarily redefine medical definitions of pregnancy, as well as challenge women’s constitutional rights. The 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision grants women the right to terminate a pregnancy up until viability. Even though medical professionals agree the point of viability occurs around 22 or 23 weeks of pregnancy, fetal heartbeat measures would limit the window for obtaining legal abortion services by a significant margin.

Several other states are currently proposing legislation that would ban abortions after 20-weeks, but are being halted in courts. Rapert knows his bill has a good chance of facing legal challenge but is “committed” to this legislative anti-choice agenda.

Since Republicans won both chambers of Arkansas’ state legislature in the 2012 elections, they have made anti-abortion legislation a high priority. Arkansas, which only has one surgical abortion clinic left in the entire state, already has a dismal record on supporting reproductive rights.

Officials with Planned Parenthood of the Heartland criticized the measure as “extreme” and said the group would oppose the legislation.

Urge the state of Arkansas to respect the rights of women and to reject this draconian anti-abortion bill.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Arkansas Legislature,

The type of bill State Senator Rapert has introduced is extremely antagonistic to the important reproductive rights granted to women by the highest court in our nation. The bill is severe in its nature, and could potentially forbid a women from getting an abortion altogether, not to mention unfairly punish doctors who support women’s reproductive rights. The fetal heartbeat clause represents an arbitrary and duplicitous strategy to impose an anti choice-agenda onto your constituents, given that women do not always know they are pregnant by the time a fetal heartbeat can be detected. This is completely unfair and violates a woman’s agency over her own body.

We understand that you may not personally support reproductive and abortion rights, but they are explicitly outlined in the Roe v. Wade decision and must be honored. Please show the women of your state, who already face challenges to their reproductive rights, that you respect their will to make decisions about their own bodies.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: night owl via flickr

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