The lovely state of Arkansas has now banned all abortions after 20 weeks. Not a particular surprise to most political folks but I have got to give a shout out to Governor Mike Beebe who actually vetoed the bill the first time through. Yes, he was ultimately overridden by the legislature but vetoing that bill (especially when he knew he would lose in the end) took a LOT of guts. As for the new law, I have to assume that it will be challenged in court by the ACLU or the Reproductive Rights Project.
What boggles my mind is that while most objective constitutional scholars believe that the law will be declared unconstitutional, that didn’t seem to bother these legislators in Arkansas. Nope, they just wanted to make their political points, which make the Governor’s action even more meritorious because he certainly hasn’t won many points for his action.
Indeed, one wonders if the legislators really knew what they were doing. No doubt they were just dragged by their short hairs by the local anti-abortion yahoos who told them “the truth,” or, more accurately, “their truth.” I can see them now cornering one of their folks, telling them that after 20 weeks it’s a baby, gosh darn it, and we gotta protect the little ones from their oh-so-promiscuous mothers, now don’t we?
What the legislature probably never heard was that most abortions at that point are not done because the woman can’t fit into her prom dress – a common argument that has been posed by years by the antis. If the legislators really cared to know “the truth,” they would have heard that late term abortions are done for far more compelling reasons (although, for the record, a woman can get an abortion up to 24 weeks without giving any reason).
Years ago, I visited a clinic in Michigan that performed abortions up to 24 weeks. With her permission, I accompanied a young woman who was seeking an abortion at 22 weeks. She was receiving financial assistance from the government, lived in subsidized housing and did not have the money or insurance to get regular prenatal care. Ultimately, she went to an Ob-Gyn who informed her that her baby had encephalitis, a swelling of the brain that caused the head to be dangerously oversized. He said that chances were that the baby would not survive and could, in fact, harm the woman during delivery. The woman, through her tears, told me she felt she had to abort her child.
At one point during the process, we were in the sonogram room and the nurse turned on the machine, coated her stomach with gel and together we watched the image on the screen. At one point, she reached out to take my hand. The image was very clear. She actually said “oh, look at my baby!” She asked the nurse several questions and I could barely hold back my tears as the patient talked in rather clinical terms about the image on the screen. Then, the nurse asked her if she was ready to proceed. The woman sighed, as if she might be having second thoughts and then she simply said “yes, I need to do this.”
Did the legislators in Arkansas even think about the cases like this? Actually, were they even told about cases like this? We’ll never know but I’m sure those who voted for the bill just keep thinking about “killing babies that would survive outside of the womb” (questionable) at 20 plus weeks. I’m sure they never even considered the woman. But what else is new, huh?
If this law actually goes into effect, more women will be forced to bear babies against their will. The woman I met would have had to carry her baby for several more weeks and then probably watch it die.
And the war against women continues.
- Arkansas bans most abortions after 20 weeks (healthnexercise.com)