State Senate Committee Approves Abortion Coverage Ban

by Andrew DeMillo, The Associated Press  on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 2:22 pm  

Sen. David Burnett, who voted "present" on the coverage ban, said he didn't think he could support Mayberry's bill without the exceptions.

"I think that rape and incest need to be included," said Burnett, D-Osceola.

Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe has said he's reviewing both proposals, but has not said whether he opposes them.

Resistance to the 20-week ban comes a day after the lawmaker proposing an even-stricter prohibition on abortions announced he would alter his legislation to address concerns that it was invasive. In his initial proposal, Sen. Jason Rapert would have banned abortions at about six weeks into a pregnancy, based on when a heartbeat may be detected.

Rapert is amending his bill to trigger the ban if an abdominal ultrasound detects a heartbeat. Opponents have said the only way to detect a heartbeat at six weeks is by using a vaginal ultrasound probe. The change would end up banning an abortion at 10 to 12 weeks into a pregnancy.

"We've struck a compromise that I believe regards the interests and the choice of women but also puts in place a standard to protect the life of the child," Rapert, R-Conway, said Wednesday.

Opponents said the change, however, wouldn't address their concerns that the measure violates the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion up until viability, usually at 22 to 24 weeks. Beebe and Republican House Speaker Davy Carter have also raised concerns about the measure's constitutionality.

"Regardless of any amendments being discussed, any bill that eliminates abortion is a bad bill for Arkansas women and their families," said Murry Newbern, a lobbyist for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten, broadcast or distributed.)



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