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Arkansas governor to sign near-total abortion ban into law

by John Moritz | March 9, 2021 at 3:12 p.m.
In this April 10, 2019 file photo, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaks to reporters in his office at the state Capitol in Little Rock. (AP Photo/Andrew DeMillo, File)

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Tuesday that he will sign Senate Bill 6, a near-total ban on abortions that would allow the procedure only to protect the life or health of the mother.

The decision to sign the bill will create one of the most-restrictive anti-abortion laws in the nation, and is virtually assured to prompt a legal challenge.

The sponsor of SB6, state Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Conway, has described the bill as a "trigger" aimed at forcing the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider its decades-old precedent upholding the right to abortions under the Roe vs. Wade decision. The bill was passed without exemptions for rape or incest, despite calls from a handful of lawmakers to include those provisions.

In announcing his decision, the governor cited the large majorities of support the bill received in the legislature, as well as his own "long-held pro-life convictions."

"SB6 is in contradiction of binding precedents of the U.S. Supreme Court, but it is the intent of the legislation to set the stage for the Supreme Court overturning current case law," Hutchinson said. "I would have preferred the legislation to include the exceptions for rape and incest, which has been my consistent view, and such exceptions would increase the chances for a review by the U.S. Supreme Court."

A similar law passed in Alabama in 2019 was blocked by a federal judge, according to news reports.

Read Wednesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for the full story.

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