The House today sent to the governor a ban on abortions after 18 weeks of pregnancy, which the Associated Press says will be the most severe abortion ban in the country. But wait ….

Bills are working through legislatures in other states, including Georgia, Florida, Kentucky and Ohio, to pass bans at the moment a heartbeat can be detected, as early as five weeks into pregnancy. So sponsors Rep. Robin Lundstrum and Sen. Jason Rapert can’t preen long over their latest incursion on women’s reproductive rights.


This 18-week ban is as unconstitutional under existing court precedent as a 12-week ban the Arkansas legislature passed and had struck down in 2016. For now, Roe v. Wade’s protection of pre-viability abortion rights would prohibit a ban at 18 weeks. But the hope among anti-abortion forces is that the Trump-packed Supreme Court will soon retreat from the Roe standard. Arkansas already had a 20-week ban, a restriction struck down in court in Arizona.

The House had to vote today because it needed to approve an exception for rape added in the Senate. There’s no provision for fetal abnormalities, the primary reason abortions are performed late in pregnancy. Most estimates and past statistics put the number of late pregnancy abortions prohibited by this bill at a few dozen, at most. The difficult circumstances that prompt women to seek them are of no concern to the Arkansas legislature. The legislation does acknowledge an exception for dire medical emergencies for a woman — death or loss of a major organ function.


The vote was 86-1.