Arkansas’s recent 56-33 state House of Representatives vote overrode the veto of the Democratic Governor, Mike Beebe, to put in place a new ban on abortions past 12 weeks, which comes less than a month after a previous ban that restricted access to anything past 20 weeks. With the implementation of this new law, Arkansas has become the most restrictive state in terms of laws regarding abortions, the Constitutionality of which, will no doubt be challenged by opponents.
The landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case upheld a woman’s right to have an abortion if she so chooses. To date, the issue of abortion continues to be a touchy subject for millions of Americans and every year, state legislatures continue to push through pro-life laws that restrict a woman’s access to her Constitutinally upheld right.
The new restrictive law comes as a result of a political uproar involving an override of the Democratic Governor’s veto to the pro-life legislation. Arkansas’s Republican dominated General Assembly was spearheaded by Senator Jason Rapert, Republican of Conway, who has been the voice and pen behind the pro-life legislation. Efforts have been dominating Republican oriented issues in the past decade, with an exponential number of pro-life laws being passed nationwide in recent years.
It comes as no surprise that this legislation is taking hold in so many states considering that a majority of local, municipal and state legislatures are dominated by pro-life Republicans. Now, more than ever, the issue is playing an increasing role in the platforms of Republican candidates running for election at any political level. In fact, many Republicans cannot receive endorsement from their party if they aren’t pro-life.
As many political strategists have pointed out with the previous Proposition 8 legislation in California, these types of restrictive legislation aren’t a question of how long the laws will stay in effect, but rather, how long it takes for the lawsuits and court challenges to hit the docket. Currently, legislation regarding California’s Proposition 8, which struck down same-sex marriage in the state, is being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, which is where many strategists believe Arkansas’s recently passed legislation will eventually end up.
The questions of Arkansas’s new abortion law isn’t a political issue, it’s a civil rights issue. Our Supreme Court, which is the ultimate decider of Constitutionality and matters regarding civil rights, ruled that a woman has an unimpeded right to an abortion and the government has no right to interfere with that right.