On Tuesday Arkansas State Senator Jason Rapert filed Senate Bill 13 during a special legislative session aiming to ban abortion at any stage of pregnancy.
While sates such as Texas have similar bills that limit the time period abortions are available, Arkansas is taking this initiative a step further by seeking to put a full stop to abortions. Bill 13 additionally discusses the current strain on the healthcare system in Arkansas due to the influx in women coming to the state from Texas because of the restrictions already passed on abortions.
Under Section Three of Bill 13 entitled “emergency clause it’s stated ” that the General Assembly previously enacted legislation in the spring to abolish abortions, which has been enjoined; that abortions have increased in this state causing harm to unborn children and the health and safety of pregnant women; and that this act is immediately necessary to protect the lives of unborn children and the health and safety of pregnant women in this state.”
Women who would otherwise die if they were not granted abortions will be allowed the permission for an abortion without penalty, however this is the only exemption granted in Bill 13. Bill 13 also proposes deputizing citizens and offering bounty of $10,000 for those who successfully sues anyone assisting a woman obtain an abortion.
When speaking to Huffington Post, Sen. Rapert described abortion as “a crime against humanity.” Rapert further explained, “We believe it is urgent that we use the Texas-style civil cause of action approach to ensure abortions are stopped right now. It is time the will of individual states to protect human life is respected across the nation.”
Bill 13 details and outlines the legal precedents to overturn the Supreme Courts ruling of Roe V. Wade likening the crimes of humanity committed when a child is aborted to the Dred Scott decisions that denied personhood to African Americans.
As stated in Bill 13, “it is time for the United States Supreme Court to redress and correct the grave injustice against humanity which is being perpetuated by its decisions in Roe v. Wade, Doe v. Bolton, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
Among the nearly 30 Republican who approved passing the bill was Arkansas state Rep. Mary Bentley. This was what allowed the bill to be considered in the special session, reaching the two-thirds threshold needed to further the bill.
Senator Rapert has expressed his desire to get Bill 13 passed into law as soon as possible. Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson stated before the special session that the implementation of additional restrictions should be halted until the Supreme Court makes its final ruling in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization which was heard last week and centers on a 15-week abortion ban in Mississippi.
According to Senator Rapert, this delay will only permit the further burdening on the already heavily burdened healthcare system with women fleeing to Arkansas from Texas to get abortions. According to a statement given to NPR, Rapert claims ““It’s our role to stand up and push for change in the system when we see inequity or we want to address the situation,”
“I say to Governor Asa Hutchinson, ‘You say you’re pro-life. Everyone that is pro-life knows when we need to pick up the tool and use it to try and save lives.”
Rapert’s sense of urgency is expressed in the language of Bill 13; “this act is immediately necessary to protect the lives of unborn children and the health and safety of pregnant women in this state,” Oklahoma and New Mexico are experiencing similar strains on their heath care systems while Texas women flee into their states seeking to terminate their pregnancies.
Rapert was almost successful in introducing a near-total ban on abortion this past year before it was blocked by a federal judge. As of the writing of this article, there are only two active abortion clinics in the state of Arkansas. However there is still a trigger law that was passed in 2019 that immediately bans abortion in the event that Roe V. Wade is overturned.