Republican Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed into law a near-total abortion ban Tuesday, which only allows the procedure to save the mother’s life and does not make exceptions for those who became pregnant through acts of rape or incest.
Hutchinson said he would have preferred exceptions for rape and incest, according to a Tuesday press release, but decided to sign the bill because of “overwhelming legislative support” and his own “sincere and long-held pro-life convictions.” The new law will not go into effect until the state legislature adjourns its session later this year, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
But the future of the law is unclear. Meagan Burrows, staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, said that the ACLU, the ACLU of Arkansas, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Great Plains intend to challenge the law
— Caroline Kelly (@caroline_mkelly) March 9, 2021
Both chambers of the Arkansas legislature overwhelmingly voted in favor of the bill, with state senators approving the measure in late February and state representatives following suit earlier this month. Hutchinson signaled his support for the bill early on, and has signed a number of pro-life measures into law since taking office in 2015.
The legislation’s proponents hope its passage will force the Supreme Court to revisit the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that ruled the Constitution allows women access to abortion services.
“SB6 is in contradiction of binding precedents of the U.S. Supreme Court, but it is the intent of the legislation to set the stage for the Supreme Court overturning current case law,” Hutchinson said of the measure. He added that removing exceptions for rape and incest “would increase the chances for a review” by the Court.
Republicans across the country hope new state laws restricting abortion will be looked on more favorably by the judiciary after former President Donald Trump expanded the Supreme Court’s conservative majority.
Arkansas is one of at least 14 states where lawmakers have proposed outright abortion bans, according to the AP. A near-total abortion law signed in Alabama was blocked by a federal judge in 2019, but the case was not taken up by the Court. (RELATED: South Carolina State House Overwhelmingly Passes Bill Making Almost All Abortions Illegal)
Opponents of the bill, including Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union, have vowed to legally challenge the new measures.