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Arkansas Lawmaker’s Plan Tightens Abortion Ban to 18 Weeks

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LITTLE ROCK — A Republican lawmaker in Arkansas, which has some of the strictest abortion prohibitions in the country, wants the state to go even further with a measure that would prohibit the procedure 18 weeks into a pregnancy.

The proposed 18-week ban filed this week would further prohibit abortions in a state where the procedure is already banned at 20 weeks. The latest measure includes an exception for medical emergencies, but not for rape or incest.

“We need to make a statement that life is precious…We’re well into the second trimester, so I think this is a way to say, wait, we can pull this back a little bit,” Republican Rep. Robin Lundstrum, who sponsored the measure, said Wednesday.

Other states have enacted measures that ban abortion earlier than Arkansas’ proposed 18-week ban, but those restrictions have been blocked by courts. Mississippi and Louisiana last year both enacted measures banning abortions at 15 weeks. Mississippi’s ban has been blocked by a federal judge. Louisiana’s ban will only take effect if Mississippi’s law is upheld. An Iowa law banning abortions at six weeks was struck down by a state judge last month.

Arkansas lawmakers in 2013 approved a measure banning abortions at 12 weeks, but that prohibition was later struck down by federal courts. The state’s 20-week ban was also enacted in 2013 and has not been challenged in court, though similar prohibitions in two other states have been struck down.

The bill is among several restrictions the majority-Republican Legislature is considering during this year’s session. The House on Thursday plans to vote on a Senate-backed measure that would ban most abortions if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns its 1973 decision legalizing the procedure nationwide. The ban would also take effect if the U.S. Constitution is amended to allow states to prohibit the procedure.

Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota and South Dakota have similar triggered bans on the books.

Abortion rights supporters said the 18-week ban would add even more restrictions in a state where they say women already face tremendous barriers.

“This extreme and dangerous political ideology continues to attack women’s health and chip away at Arkansans’ basic right to control our own bodies,” Gloria Pedro, the Arkansas lobbyist for Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes said in a statement.

Other abortion measures lawmakers are considering this session include a measure prohibiting abortions because of a Down syndrome diagnosis. Another proposal would increase the waiting period for an abortion from 48 hours to 72 hours.

(All contents © copyright 2019 Associated Press. All rights reserved.) 

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