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House panel advances abortion bans; one sent back to committee

By Gavin Lesnick

This article was originally published February 19, 2013 at 10:14 a.m. Updated February 19, 2013 at 2:45 p.m.

sen-jason-rapert-speaks-before-a-committee-tuesday-shortly-before-it-voted-to-advance-his-bill-to-ban-most-abortions-at-12-weeks

Sen. Jason Rapert speaks before a committee Tuesday shortly before it voted to advance his bill to ban most abortions at 12 weeks.

— Separate bills that would ban most abortions 12 weeks and 20 weeks into a pregnancy were passed by an Arkansas House committee, but one was later sent back over for a new vote after concerns were raised about the process.

Abortions would be banned after 12 weeks when a heartbeat can be detected with an abdominal ultrasound under Senate Bill 134, the second measure passed Tuesday by the House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee.

The measure was passed by a voice vote. Committee Vice Chair Reginald Murdock, D-Marianna, asked for a roll-call vote, but chairman Rep. John Burris, R-Harrison, ruled he had already called on the next agenda item and that it was too late.

Murdock called Burris' actions an "obvious abuse of the position" of chairman. He was told he could appeal the move to the rules committee.

House Speaker Davy Carter said later Tuesday that he is sending the proposal back to a committee after the complaint over the vote.

After the House adjourned, the Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee held a special meeting concerning Senate Bill 134. The committee took a roll call, and the bill passed with an 11-5 vote. It will now return to the House.

The bill contains exemptions for cases involving a "highly lethal fetal disorder" and for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. Amendments to the bill provided for abortions in cases of medical emergency and removed a criminal penalty for doctors who perform abortions it bans.

Bill sponsor state Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Bigelow, told the committee he believes the changes have helped strike the "proper balance."

The committee on Tuesday also passed by voice vote a revised version of House Bill 1037, which would ban most abortions at 20 weeks.

The bill sponsor, Rep. Andy Mayberry, R-Hensley, told the committee he felt it was a "good bill" that will "save some babies' lives."

Rita Sklar, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, spoke out against Mayberry's bill, the first item on the agenda. After the hearing, she said the committee's actions were a "blatant disregard for the female population" and that the bills wouldn't hold up to lawsuits challenging their constitutionality.

"I would say it's open season in terms of lawsuits right now," she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Comments on: House panel advances abortion bans; one sent back to committee

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rainbowharold55 says... February 19, 2013 at 11:04 a.m.

Let's hope the voters remember the excesses of these boobs next election.

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BillSmithFreeSpiritMan says... February 19, 2013 at 11:41 a.m.

jobs,jobs,jobs,jobs

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gwen9 says... February 19, 2013 at 11:45 a.m.

Finally some bills being passed that will make a difference!! This has been a long time coming!

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hah406 says... February 19, 2013 at 12:17 p.m.

The only difference these bills are going to make is in the Attorney General's budget, since he will have to try to defend them when they are ruled unconstitutional. And what cowards, calling a voice vote instead of a roll call vote. Sounds to me like they probably didn't have the votes to pass it out of committee if they were actually counted!

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Dontsufferfools says... February 19, 2013 at 12:39 p.m.

Saw another article that stated Arizona has passed a 20-week bill that has so far been upheld in federal court. Actually, I think 20 weeks is about right. A woman has had plenty of time, several months to make decisions about motherhood, her health and the health of the fetus. Abortion is a trade-off between personal liberty and respect for life. Sometimes we have to draw a boundary and say that side's yours and this side's mine. Of course, Rapert, Mayberry and company will probably come back next session and try for 18 weeks, and so forth. The anti-abortion strategy is to nibble away at Roe v. Wade.

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TheBatt says... February 19, 2013 at 1:12 p.m.

"Amendments to the bill provided for abortions in cases of medical emergency and removed a criminal penalty for doctors who perform abortions it bans."

If there is no criminal penalty for breaking the law... then whats the point of a law?

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fasttony46 says... February 19, 2013 at 2:03 p.m.

One of these day's men are going to stop trying to tell women what to do with their bodies! As voter, and a smart man I will remind my species!

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Nate says... February 19, 2013 at 3:14 p.m.

And this 7-week legislative session has cost us how much money? The 2012 election in Arkansas could best be described as an ABORTION based on what we've gotten so far from our elected officials - November 2014 is less than 20-months away is the BEST NEWS!

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akhaddd says... February 19, 2013 at 4:37 p.m.

yay more govt control

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SurferDuuuude says... February 19, 2013 at 5 p.m.

Let's hope the voters remember the boobs who voted against the bill next election!

Hey morebeer - Nice post.

Heyfasttony - When a woman decides to have unprotected sex and gets pregnant as a result, this issue is no longer just "her body". That was the pre-sex question. Once pregnant, there is no individual liberty. Once pregnant, the liberty is shared between the unborn child, the impregnator and the impregnatee. You may be a voter, but the "smart man" assertion is highly questionable.

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