Abortion will forever be a touchy subject, and the verdict on its legality seems ever-changing.
On Wednesday, the New York Times reported that Arkansas has circumvented a U.S. Supreme Court decision and passed the country’s most restrictive ban on abortion, one that makes the procedure illegal at just 12 weeks into pregnancy — when a fetus’s heartbeat can typically be detected — as opposed to the federal allowance of 24.
The adoption of the law, called the Human Heartbeat Protection Act, is the first statewide victory for the anti-abortion movement. But fuming abortion rights groups will undoubtedly (and quickly) push a lawsuit to block the state’s rulings, and their argument will be strong not just because of what the law concerns: Arkansas’ decision is “the sharpest challenge yet to Roe v. Wade” according to the Times. The ban contradicts the limit established by the Supreme Court rulings that allow women to get an abortion until the fetus is viable outside of the womb. Arkansas legislators in support of the bill hope it will reduce the amount of abortions.
Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat, vetoed the ban, calling it “blatantly unconstitutional,” reported the Times. And he raises a legitimate point. If the Supreme Court has made a decision for the country about what constitutes a legal abortion and what does not, can the state of Arkansas make its own rules? Unlikely, especially in face of powerful and active abortion rights groups. It’s very possible that the federal courts will overturn the ruling. Even some anti-abortion leaders call the measure a futile gesture, according to the Times.
Granted, on the one hand, if abortion is such a divided issue, some might hold that certain states should have the right to make their own rules. But realistically and constitutionally speaking, the decision has already been made for the country. All American women expect to make abortion decisions under the same law. That law is in place to protect those individuals who cannot afford to have children, who are impregnated against their own will, and who are powerless to control what state in which they reside. Arkansas may see fewer abortions with this bill in place, but also more unwanted children who cannot be provided for. They should have a plan of action for this fact. Moreover, making abortions illegal has never stopped them from happening — it just makes them more dangerous, as people receive the surgeries in less safe circumstances.
So if indeed the Supreme Court does overturn the new ban, perhaps the state should focus its efforts on urging people to be careful.