Arkansas Heartbeat Ban Likely to Pass, Even Without Governor’s Support

Rapert knows his heartbeat ban is constitutionally sound. He just can't tell you who told him so.

Senator Jason Rapert. Arkansas News

The new heartbeat ban sponsored by Arkansas state Senator Jason Rapert is proposed as a more “moderate” version of a heartbeat ban. Using a trans-abdominal versus trans-vaginal ultrasound to find the heartbeat could potentially add weeks to the period between when a decision is made and an abortion can be obtained. Still, the ban would begin well before the second trimester, making it clearly unconstitutional.

Sen. Rapert disagrees. He knows it can pass a court challenge because some legal person said it could. He just can’t tell anyone who that scholar was.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has allowed states to prohibit abortions before viability,” Rapert told the [House] panel.

He said his bill was “vetted by legal scholars” but did not name them.

[Law professor Theresa] Beiner, who teaches constitutional law at UALR, said the court has never issued such a ruling.

Whether the bill is or isn’t constitutional could potentially be the deciding factor when it comes to the final decision of support from Governor Mike Beebe. Gov. Beebe has already said that he’d be reluctant to sign any bill into law that was blatantly unconstitutional, and he doesn’t appear be softening his stance when it comes to this very slightly more “moderate” ban. “If it gets to me, then to a large extent I’ll be guided by that,” he told reporters, according to Arkansas Business.

The bad news? It may not matter whether or not Gov. Beebe supports the bill. It would take just a simple majority to override his veto, so, assuming every senate vote to pass the bill held steady, an override would be assured.

In the meantime, Gov. Beebe has agreed to sign into law a ban on abortion coverage in insurance plans in the state health exchange, saying that it just reinforces the public ban on abortion funding.