In a March 4 tweet, Planned Parenthood gave thanks to Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe for his decision to veto a state bill that would ban abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy or when a fetal heartbeat is detected. Planned Parenthood tweeted:
The bill which Planned Parenthood labels “extreme” actually allows for exceptions in the common “hard cases” many Americans are uncomfortable with.
Fox News reports:
State Sen. Jason Rapert, the Republican who authored the law, says he thinks lawmakers struck the right balance. He notes the measure includes exceptions for “rape, incest, to save the life of the mother and to prevent irreparable harm to the mother’s health, in addition to giving an exception for fatal fetal anomalies.
Although Planned Parenthood strongly supported Gov. Beebe’s decision to veto the bill, the Arkansas Legislature had a different response. The Legislature voted to override Gov.Beebe’s veto and enact the Human Heartbeat Bill.
Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards released a statement expressing her organizations displeasure with the decision:
We are deeply disappointed that the Arkansas legislature voted to impose the most restrictive ban on safe and legal abortion in the country.
The majority of Arkansans – and the majority of Americans – don’t want politicians involved in a woman’s personal medical decisions about her pregnancy. “Governor Beebe rightfully vetoed this legislation and the legislature would have been wise to let the veto stand as this bill is clearly unconstitutional.
PP President Richards assumes that the majority of Americans don’t want politicians involved in their medical decisions concerning pregnancy, but are her statements based on fact or on opinion? Gallup Polls from 2012 declare that Americans frown on second- and third-trimester abortions. Results from the polls give these revealing statistics:
A solid majority of Americans (61%) believe abortion should generally be legal in the first three months of pregnancy, while 31% disagree. However support drops off sharply, to 27%, for second-trimester abortions, and further still, to 14%, for third-trimester abortions. Gallup has found this pattern each time it has asked this question since 1996, indicating that Americans attach much greater value to the fetus as it approaches viability, starting in the second trimester.
Sixty-four percent of people polled in the survey believe that abortion should be illegal in the second three months of pregnancy. According to the Gallup research, it appears that Arkansas’s heartbeat bill is right in step with what many Americans want. Along with growing public support against abortion, the number of states pursuing similar heartbeat legislation has risen over the last decade.
Last week, Arkansas passed the nation’s most restrictive abortion law, enraging abortion-rights supporters and sparking plans for a court challenge. But that law followed a wave of legislation in the last three years: Since 2010, 10 states have passed outright bans on abortions for women who have been pregnant for more than 20 weeks, and in some cases earlier.
Before 2010, no states banned abortions outright at any stage of pregnancy. Nebraska started the trend with a 20-week abortion ban in April 2010. In 2011, Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, and Oklahoma followed suit, and in 2012, Arizona, Georgia, and Louisiana passed curbs of their own.
It seems that not everyone believes that protecting the life of a pre-born child is “extreme.” Contrary to Richards’s belief, politicians aren’t the only ones supporting anti-abortion legislation. Mary Spaulding Balch, director of state legislation for National Right to Life, gave these remarks after the legislature first passed the Heartbeat Bill:
Unborn children jerk away from painful stimuli, their stress hormones increase, and they require anesthesia before any fetal surgery. With today’s override of the governor’s veto, Arkansas has become the eighth state to pass legislation protecting unborn children capable of feeling pain from the violence of abortion.
A NY Times article titled “Arkansas’s Abortion Ban and One Man’s Strong Will” shares the response of pro-life leaders to the passing of the Heartbeat Bill.
Janet Porter, president of Faith2Action, said, “What happened in Arkansas will definitely encourage others to take similar action.” Bryan Fischer, a spokesman at the American Family Association, called the bill’s passing “a milestone.”
The NY Times reports that State Senator Jason Rapert, the designer of the law, isn’t intimidated by the threats against it. In an interview, Rapert said he has no time for those who say the law will prove legally futile, noting that the word “abortion” does not appear in the Constitution.
Rapert shares that he’s received messages of support from activists and legislators around the country. “Arkansas has made a significant statement,” he said. “Hopefully we can awaken the nation.”