Arkansas legislature overrides veto, restores “heartbeat” abortion restrictions

posted at 8:41 am on March 7, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Pro-life leaders have tried for the last few years to push the window of restrictions on abortions to at at least the stage where a heartbeat can be detected in normal diagnostic testing.  Arkansas had been the first state to pass such a measure, but Governor Mike Beebe, a Democrat, vetoed it over concerns about its constitutionality.  However, thanks to bipartisan support, both chambers of the legislature voted to override the veto and reinstate the 12-week limit:

Arkansas has the nation’s most restrictive abortion ban after the Republican-dominated state House voted Wednesday to override the governor’s veto.

The measure, S.B. 134, bans most abortions after 12 weeks if a fetal heartbeat is detected, but it includes exemptions for rape, incest, if the the mother’s life is at risk and disorders that would cause the baby to die soon after birth.

The law, titled the Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection Act, takes effect this summer. …

Last week, the Legislature overrode another abortion-ban veto by Beebe. That bill, H.B. 1037, bans most abortions after 20 weeks, with the same exceptions, and became law with the Feb. 26 override.

Of the 4,033 abortions in the state in 2011, 20% occurred at or after 12 weeks, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.

Beebe, for his part, insisted that both laws stand no chance of being upheld by the Supreme Court and will end up costing the state a lot of time and money in futile court challenges.  The New York Times reports that Beebe has a few strange bedfellows in that position:

“When is enough enough?” asked the bill’s sponsor in the legislature, Senator Jason Rapert, a Republican, who compared the more than 50 million abortions in the United States since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision to the Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide. “It’s time to take a stand.” …

But other anti-abortion leaders say that strategy, exemplified by the Arkansas law, is likely to backfire, causing courts to endorse the current limits and wasting resources that could bring real, if smaller, gains.

“As much as we would like to protect the unborn at that point, it is futile and it won’t save any babies,” said James Bopp Jr., a prominent anti-abortion lawyer who opposed the Arkansas law. Mr. Bopp, who lives in Indiana, is general counsel of National Right to Life.

He said that lower courts are virtually certain to affirm existing Supreme Court rulings and, like many other legal experts, he predicted that the Supreme Court was very unlikely to agree to hear such a case.

The reluctance to push on “fetal heartbeat” legislation comes from a fear that a negative ruling by the current Supreme Court will set precedents that may prove difficult to undo by a later, more sympathetic court.  However, if Bopp is correct that the top court will avoid taking this case if an appellate court throws out the law, then there really isn’t much to fear from a more aggressive strategy.  There is also a question of just when we might expect a more sympathetic court.  Had Obama lost his re-election effort, that may have arrived sometime in the next few years.  Now, though, if anything we may see a less sympathetic court than we have now, and therefore it may be time to roll the dice.

The odds may be a little long on a ruling upholding a state law recognizing a firmly objective and scientific criterion — a detectable heartbeat using normal ultrasound techniques (rather than the transvaginal method that created such a headache for Bob McDonnell in Virginia) — as a rational method to regulate and limit abortions.  Science in pre-natal life has advanced tremendously since Roe v Wade and its companion Doe ruling, for one thing.  For another, the potential swing vote on such a challenge just complained publicly about the demand for Supreme Court intervention in exactly the kind of legislative issues this presents:

Justice Anthony Kennedy says he is concerned that the U.S. Supreme Court is increasingly the venue for deciding politically charged issues such as gay marriage, health care and immigration.

The 76-year-old associate justice said Wednesday that major policies in a democracy should not depend “on what nine unelected people from a narrow legal background have to say.”

Rather, he said, it is important for political leaders to show the world that democracy works through compromise.

In this case, Arkansas legislators demonstrated bipartisan consensus on this issue.  This might not be as lost a cause as some on both sides of the issue believe.


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Standing strong! This issue will not and should not go away.

indypat on March 7, 2013 at 8:48 AM

What causes and controls a heartbeat?

OldEnglish on March 7, 2013 at 8:48 AM

Thanks ED!

Jayrae on March 7, 2013 at 8:51 AM

Kennedy can thank for Roe and Doe for that. Ever since liberals saw that they can just go to court to have their preferred legislation declared the law by “sympathetic” judges, they’ve been doing it for 40-odd years.

jas88 on March 7, 2013 at 8:51 AM

What causes and controls a heartbeat?

OldEnglish on March 7, 2013 at 8:48 AM

Brain activity. Which is why I stand by both as a measure of defining life, for consistency within my own beliefs if absolutely nothing else.

MelonCollie on March 7, 2013 at 8:53 AM

It “pains” me to say that the Federal court struck down Idaho’s new abortion law.

Electrongod on March 7, 2013 at 8:54 AM

MelonCollie on March 7, 2013 at 8:53 AM

Precisely! And said brain activity must occur first.

OldEnglish on March 7, 2013 at 8:56 AM

The 76-year-old associate justice said Wednesday that major policies in a democracy should not depend “on what nine unelected people from a narrow legal background have to say.”

He’s right about that. Unfortunately, in cases like Roe v. Wade, nine unelected people from a narrow legal background (or 7 of the 9, anyway) decided that they were superior policy-makers to the elected legislature of the state of Texas.

AZCoyote on March 7, 2013 at 8:56 AM

A step in the right direction from the heartland. Bless the Arkansas legislature for trying.

Kissmygrits on March 7, 2013 at 8:57 AM

OldEnglish on March 7, 2013 at 8:56 AM

Wut!

OldEnglish on March 7, 2013 at 8:57 AM

Nothing for the left to complain about since Arkansas is just joining most of Western Europe with limiting abortions on-demand to 12 weeks. Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Switzerland all limit to 12 weeks, while Portugal until the 10th. Only the Netherlands and Sweden have more liberal laws.

voss63 on March 7, 2013 at 8:59 AM

I consider myself “post-prolife”… I think the whole movement is doomed by safe prenatal genetic testing.

This Arkansas law is the most that will ever be possible… it’s now or never for the pro-life movement… push it up to the Supreme Court.

This is 6 years old, but look at European countries abortion laws… Arkansas is right in line with most of the EU.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6235557.stm

ninjapirate on March 7, 2013 at 9:01 AM

The 76-year-old associate justice said Wednesday that major policies in a democracy should not depend “on what nine unelected people from a narrow legal background have to say.”

Maybe the SCOTUS should have thought about that before it started torturing the language of the Constutition beyond recognition, and finding imaginary rights emanating from invisible penumbras.

AZCoyote on March 7, 2013 at 9:04 AM

voss63 on March 7, 2013 at 8:59 AM

Considering that the current Supreme Court has an unnatural deference to the modern “law of nations”, this may be the best argument yet.

unclesmrgol on March 7, 2013 at 9:07 AM

If and when the Supremes overturn this, I hope Arkansas tells them to eff off. That’s what should have happened across the nation back in 1973.

WannabeAnglican on March 7, 2013 at 9:07 AM

I consider myself “post-prolife”… I think the whole movement is doomed by safe prenatal genetic testing.

This Arkansas law is the most that will ever be possible… it’s now or never for the pro-life movement… push it up to the Supreme Court.

ninjapirate on March 7, 2013 at 9:01 AM

+1! Between the impending Demoncratic majority and the long history of failed attempts, this is the last tiny glimmer of hope.

MelonCollie on March 7, 2013 at 9:10 AM

He’s right about that. Unfortunately, in cases like Roe v. Wade, nine unelected people from a narrow legal background (or 7 of the 9, anyway) decided that they were superior policy-makers to the elected legislature of the state of Texas.

AZCoyote on March 7, 2013 at 8:56 AM

They also decided on the basis of faulty science.

To understand this, look at fetal homicide laws like California’s and see the contortions the laws go through to not criminalize abortion.

unclesmrgol on March 7, 2013 at 9:10 AM

Excellent news…

mnjg on March 7, 2013 at 9:13 AM

unclesmrgol on March 7, 2013 at 9:07 AM

True, Scalia can cite Luxembourgish law to uphold the Arkansan restriction, even getting Ginsburg to join. 8-1 vote, with Roberts of course disappointing again.

voss63 on March 7, 2013 at 9:16 AM

This is awesome. This is how it is supposed to work, and it is bipartisan. I know all the redneck jokes going on about the south, but Arkansas just became more pro-science than 49 other states in the union.

melle1228 on March 7, 2013 at 9:19 AM

What causes and controls a heartbeat?

OldEnglish on March 7, 2013 at 8:48 AM

Ask your own body.

avagreen on March 7, 2013 at 9:20 AM

As an Arkansan I’m proud.

Another law on the books making this Red state hostile territory to Liberals.

Charlemagne on March 7, 2013 at 9:20 AM

Isn’t “viability” supposed to be a big issue in Roe? I thought it was … which should mean that, as the date of viability moves toward the beginning of a pregnancy (due to advances in medicine), then the date at which society’s interest in protecting that unborn child becomes paramount also moves toward the beginning of a pregnancy. Right?

(No, of course not …. abortion on demand is sacrament to the left).

BD57 on March 7, 2013 at 9:21 AM

Beebe, for his part, insisted that both laws stand no chance of being upheld by the Supreme Court and will end up costing the state a lot of time and money in futile court challenges. The New York Times reports that Beebe has a few strange bedfellows in that position:

Dear Governor Beebe,

That’s really for the courts to decide, isn’t it? Should not your first concern be about protecting life and letting the lawsuits fall where they may. Seriously you worthless bastard. Doesn’t the protection of all life trump the time and money it might cost? Your filthy party is constantly preaching that even saving one child justifies gutting the Second Amendment and yet you’ve decided that it’s fine to kill the unborn because it is going to take some staff work to argue in favor of life? May you rot in hell.

Happy Nomad on March 7, 2013 at 9:21 AM

The measure, S.B. 134, bans most abortions after 12 weeks if a fetal heartbeat is detected, but it includes exemptions for rape, incest, if the the mother’s life is at risk and disorders that would cause the baby to die soon after birth.

Feelings trump life! Yet, people wonder why this nation has seen its apex in prosperity.

astonerii on March 7, 2013 at 9:22 AM

This is awesome. This is how it is supposed to work, and it is bipartisan. I know all the redneck jokes going on about the south, but Arkansas just became more pro-science than 49 other states in the union.

melle1228 on March 7, 2013 at 9:19 AM

If redneckophobia keeps Liberals out of the South then it’s a disease worth spreading.

Charlemagne on March 7, 2013 at 9:22 AM

If redneckophobia keeps Liberals out of the South then it’s a disease worth spreading.

Charlemagne on March 7, 2013 at 9:22 AM

10-4, rednecks are often good joke material but there is absolutely nothing funny about liberalism, because their stupidity costs money and lives.

MelonCollie on March 7, 2013 at 9:24 AM

then the date at which society’s interest in protecting that unborn child becomes paramount also moves toward the beginning of a pregnancy. Right?

(No, of course not …. abortion on demand is sacrament to the left).

BD57 on March 7, 2013 at 9:21 AM

For the left, life doesn’t begin until the child has climbed out of the womb and completed at least an undergraduate degree in the humanities at a competitive state university.

Seriously, lefties are pretty much selfish when it comes to the issue of abortion. I think it was Rham Emanual’s brother who argued that a woman actually should have a certain period of time after birth to decide if she wanted to keep her child or kill it (the premise being that newborns are oblivious to the world around them). How do you even begin to find common ground with people whose opening position is that the child is to be killed unless the mother says otherwise?

Happy Nomad on March 7, 2013 at 9:27 AM

avagreen on March 7, 2013 at 9:20 AM

Indeed! Brain activity should be the test – as it is in death.

OldEnglish on March 7, 2013 at 9:29 AM

If redneckophobia keeps Liberals out of the South then it’s a disease worth spreading.

Charlemagne on March 7, 2013 at 9:22 AM

Libs are like locusts..

melle1228 on March 7, 2013 at 9:29 AM

If any lib says to you “but…but Planned Parenthood is just about educating girls/women to be responsible”, be sure to point them to this article:

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/planned-parenthood-nyc-teen-pregnancy-psa-bloomberg-182816020.html

DethMetalCookieMonst on March 7, 2013 at 9:39 AM

Indeed! Brain activity should be the test – as it is in death.

OldEnglish on March 7, 2013 at 9:29 AM

Then explain Maxine Waters.

Bishop on March 7, 2013 at 9:40 AM

If and when the Supremes overturn this, I hope Arkansas tells them to eff off. That’s what should have happened across the nation back in 1973.

WannabeAnglican on March 7, 2013 at 9:07 AM

We’re really getting to the point where I’d almost rather the state not bother trying to defend it. Issue a statement that neither Arkansas nor any other state ever agreed to be governed by judicial review at the federal level. If the federal courts want to declare the law unconstitutional, fine. That doesn’t have any legal standing, as the courts just gave themselves that power in the first place.

FlareCorran on March 7, 2013 at 9:41 AM

Bishop on March 7, 2013 at 9:40 AM

LOL! One of the mysteries of the universe.

OldEnglish on March 7, 2013 at 9:46 AM

Bishop on March 7, 2013 at 9:40 AM
LOL! One of the mysteries of the universe.

OldEnglish on March 7, 2013 at 9:46 AM

In all seriousness, how do some of these people actually get that far in politics. Do they have handlers? And who looks at someone like Hank Johnson and says “you have potential?” I mean I have dogs smarter than these people.

melle1228 on March 7, 2013 at 9:52 AM

Finally, an instance of bipartisanship I can get behind.

And a hat tip to the Democrats for defying their national party and standing for the rights of the most helpless!

Stoic Patriot on March 7, 2013 at 9:53 AM

DethMetalCookieMonst on March 7, 2013 at 9:39 AM

“The latest NYC ad campaign creates stigma, hostility and negative public opinions about teen pregnancy and parenthood rather than offering alternative aspirations for young people,”

Haydee Morales, vice president of education and training at Planned Parenthood’s New York office

What the hell is an alternative aspiration? And yes, there should be a stigma and negative public opinion attached to teens bringing a child into the world even though they cannot provide for themselves let alone a child. Ms. Morales essentially argues that anything is better than letting that child live. And PP’s approach doesn’t even solve the underlying cultural problems that spawns much of the children having children in the inner city.

Happy Nomad on March 7, 2013 at 9:56 AM

I’m going to be a father very soon (wife is 32 weeks pregnant). I’ve always been pro-life but ever since seeing the ultrasounds it makes me angrier and angrier at places like Planned Parenthood.

DethMetalCookieMonst on March 7, 2013 at 10:08 AM

Indeed! Brain activity should be the test – as it is in death.

OldEnglish on March 7, 2013 at 9:29 AM

Then we could abort every Democrat in the Congress without a problem…

Archivarix on March 7, 2013 at 10:13 AM

I’m going to be a father very soon (wife is 32 weeks pregnant). I’ve always been pro-life but ever since seeing the ultrasounds it makes me angrier and angrier at places like Planned Parenthood.

DethMetalCookieMonst on March 7, 2013 at 10:08 AM

Planned Parenthood and the left would tell you that you’ve become attached to a mass of cells not a life. That is what makes me angry.

Happy Nomad on March 7, 2013 at 10:13 AM

Arkansas’s abortion law should be the standard for our current social state. Realistically, I don’t see abortion getting totally outlawed until someone comes up with a “human incubator” that can carry a baby all the way from blastocyst to viability. We can argue about the ethics of such an invention all we want, but unless there’s some cataclysmic disaster that wipes out millions of people and/or destroys our big social network conglomerate, we’re not going back to that idyllic small-town-America values system as a whole.

TMOverbeck on March 7, 2013 at 10:15 AM

Good news is all too rare and this is good news. Thanks, Ed!!!

Limerick on March 7, 2013 at 10:20 AM

Unfortunately it’s unlikely that this law will survive the courts. A similar law was just struck down by the Federal Court in Idaho.

PoliTech on March 7, 2013 at 10:32 AM

Until Armin Tamzaranian weighs in, I will not know who is right in this debate…you vile bunch of religious zealots, violating a womyn’s property rights to do what she will with a parasitic trespasser in her womb.

JFKY on March 7, 2013 at 10:35 AM

JFKY on March 7, 2013 at 10:35 AM

Yeah, the zombies are late. What gives?

CurtZHP on March 7, 2013 at 10:54 AM

In all seriousness, how do some of these people actually get that far in politics. Do they have handlers? And who looks at someone like Hank Johnson and says “you have potential?” I mean I have dogs smarter than these people.

melle1228 on March 7, 2013 at 9:52 AM

…someone explain Henry Waxman too me!

KOOLAID2 on March 7, 2013 at 10:54 AM

Indeed! Brain activity should be the test – as it is in death.

OldEnglish on March 7, 2013 at 9:29 AM

.
Then explain Maxine Waters.

Bishop on March 7, 2013 at 9:40 AM

.
“rim-shot”

listens2glenn on March 7, 2013 at 11:03 AM

….and the sound of a heart beat may become Unconstitutional.

How did my country come to such an end?

E9RET on March 7, 2013 at 11:04 AM

Indeed! Brain activity should be the test – as it is in death.

OldEnglish on March 7, 2013 at 9:29 AM

.
Then we could abort every Democrat in the Congress without a problem…

Archivarix on March 7, 2013 at 10:13 AM

.
Well, yeah ….. but it doesn’t stop with the Democrats.

listens2glenn on March 7, 2013 at 11:05 AM

….and the sound of a heart beat may become Unconstitutional.

How did my country come to such an end?

E9RET on March 7, 2013 at 11:04 AM

.
Post-WWII LAZINESS on the part of American Christian believers.

listens2glenn on March 7, 2013 at 11:07 AM

Post-WWII LAZINESS on the part of American Christian believers.

listens2glenn on March 7, 2013 at 11:07 AM

The sight of pot-addled stinking hippie scum ‘protesting’ for Communists during the height of the ACTUAL Red Menace should’ve been a massive wakeup call extraordinaire to parents, lawmakers, LEO’s, pastors, and other authority figures.

It didn’t, and not only were further riots only deterred by Kent State, the cultural situation rapidly deteriorated.

MelonCollie on March 7, 2013 at 11:15 AM

TMOverbeck on March 7, 2013 at 10:15 AM

Short of a miraculous SCOTUS overturn or outright civil war to end abortion (not happening), you are absolutely right. This law being copied elsewhere is the best we can do and we should focus on that goal.

MelonCollie on March 7, 2013 at 11:16 AM

JFKY on March 7, 2013 at 10:35 AM

Wonder what was keeping the trolls, abortion being their religion….

itsspideyman on March 7, 2013 at 11:32 AM

you vile bunch of religious zealots, violating a womyn’s property rights to do what she will with a parasitic trespasser in her womb.

JFKY on March 7, 2013 at 10:35 AM

Unless she was raped it is no trespasser, it would be a guest welcomed in that she decided she didn’t like.

Freed0m28 on March 7, 2013 at 11:37 AM

Thanks be to God for some good news. If obama has his way with drones and death panels, he is going to get us coming and going. democrats are cold hearted baby killers……

crosshugger on March 7, 2013 at 11:56 AM

both laws stand no chance of being upheld by the Supreme Court and will end up costing the state a lot of time and money in futile court challenges.

Doesn’t matter to socons. They don’t live in reality anyway.

Their abortion obsession has no limits, speaking of limits. All of this time and effort spent on something that is never going to happen.

Moesart on March 7, 2013 at 11:59 AM

Unless she was raped it is no trespasser, it would be a guest welcomed in that she decided she didn’t like.

Freed0m28 on March 7, 2013 at 11:37 AM

You OBVIOUSLY are not familiar with Armin…..

JFKY on March 7, 2013 at 12:01 PM

Doesn’t matter to socons. They don’t live in reality anyway.

Moesart on March 7, 2013 at 11:59 AM

Reality #1: a LIMIT was just placed.

Reality #2: You are a walking argument for abortion.

MelonCollie on March 7, 2013 at 12:04 PM

What causes and controls a heartbeat?

OldEnglish on March 7, 2013 at 8:48 AM

Brain activity. Which is why I stand by both as a measure of defining life, for consistency within my own beliefs if absolutely nothing else.

MelonCollie on March 7, 2013 at 8:53 AM

I think it’s more like nerves at that stage. From research several years ago, I found that “normal brain activity” doesn’t begin until about 20 weeks.

elfman on March 7, 2013 at 12:17 PM

I think it’s more like nerves at that stage. From research several years ago, I found that “normal brain activity” doesn’t begin until about 20 weeks.

elfman on March 7, 2013 at 12:17 PM

That’s about the number I hear. Which is rather interesting since viability currently stands at 22 weeks…

I haven’t thought of this before, but I wonder if that is because if that’s the bare minimum time for the brain to form, and before then you might as well try to turn on a computer with an unfinished CPU.

MelonCollie on March 7, 2013 at 12:22 PM

Science in pre-natal life has advanced tremendously since Roe v Wade and its companion Doe ruling, for one thing.

I’d like to think that matters. But science had advanced nearly as tremendously 20 years ago, and no one seems to care.

Abortion proves that Democrats are the anti-science party

tom on March 7, 2013 at 12:30 PM

The measure, S.B. 134, bans most abortions after 12 weeks if a fetal heartbeat is detected, but it includes exemptions for rape, incest, if the the mother’s life is at risk and disorders that would cause the baby to die soon after birth.

Feelings trump life! Yet, people wonder why this nation has seen its apex in prosperity.

astonerii on March 7, 2013 at 9:22 AM

It’s heartening to at least see abortion limited so that it can’t be done when there are clear signs of life.

And then of course frustrating to see signs of life suddenly become unimportant if the baby was born of rape or incest. Very logically inconsistent.

In spite of that, I’ll take it, and happily. Rape and incest are incredibly rare reasons for abortion, and millions of lives could be saved annually.

If we could reach a point where laws like this one were standard across the country, then we could address the extreme cases afterwards. And I suspect abortions due to rape might still become even more rare if rape victims became convinced their child was still a human being who deserved to live.

tom on March 7, 2013 at 12:42 PM

Doesn’t matter to socons. They don’t live in reality anyway.

Moesart on March 7, 2013 at 11:59 AM

Reality #1: a LIMIT was just placed.

Reality #2: You are a walking argument for abortion.

MelonCollie on March 7, 2013 at 12:04 PM

*rimshot*

itsspideyman on March 7, 2013 at 12:59 PM

itsspideyman on March 7, 2013 at 12:59 PM

It’s always fun to send idiots like him packing.

Unlike brainfree or Dumbte, Slo-mo will sometimes have the decency to slink away after a conservative commenter plants the proverbial boot on their butt.

MelonCollie on March 7, 2013 at 1:08 PM

Doesn’t matter to socons. pro aborts. They don’t live in reality anyway.

Their abortion obsession has no limits….

Moesart on March 7, 2013 at 11:59 AM

FIFY

melle1228 on March 7, 2013 at 1:14 PM

I’d like to think that matters. But science had advanced nearly as tremendously 20 years ago, and no one seems to care.

Abortion proves that Democrats are the anti-science party

tom on March 7, 2013 at 12:30 PM

It is funny.. Science advanced about 4 years after Roe to the point where it change hearts. Bernard Nathanson who helped start NARAL changed because of ultrasound technology which I believe became prevalent in 1977. Roe v. Wade was always bad law. The whole concept of viability is not legal which is what the decision should have been based on. Viability is a medical concept that changes based on technology. Constitutional rights should not change based on technological advancement i.e the right to free speech hasn’t changed much from the quill pen to the internet. And you are right, despite the popular mantra, Dems are the anti-science party.

melle1228 on March 7, 2013 at 1:22 PM

I heard my baby’s heartbeat 33 days post conception. This is not heartbeat legislation. This is 1st trimester legislation.

cptacek on March 7, 2013 at 3:31 PM

Outstanding!

sadsushi on March 7, 2013 at 7:32 PM

All due respects to Justice Kennedy, do we really want this buch of dolts in Washington really making decisions for us? And to be honest the group in my state capital of Austin isn’t any better.

georgeofthedesert on March 8, 2013 at 11:53 AM