Republican lawmakers are pushing abortion-restricting bills in both Indiana and Arkansas, suggesting the GOP did not learn from the national backlash to super aggressive abortion rhetoric in the 2012 elections. (See: Akin, Todd and Mourdock, Richard.)
Old habits, it seem, die hard.
On Thursday, the Republican-controlled House in Arkansas green-lighted a bill, 80-10, to prohibit abortions at 20 weeks into a pregnancy. And in a separate move, the state House approved a bill, 68-20, that would ban abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy if a fetal heartbeat is detected (with the exception of rape, incest and life of the mother).
If the latter bill passes, it would become one of the strictest abortion laws in this country.
Critics say the legislation, dubbed the “heartbeat bill,” would hurt women who don’t realize they are pregnant in time. But Republican Rep. Andy Mayberry, who spearheaded the bill, said on the House floor that it would protect “the most weak and innocent and vulnerable among us.”
Whether the bill becomes law is very much up in the air. Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe has expressed concerns about the constitutionality of both bills, but has not indicated if he’d sign off on them. Beebe previously told local news outlets that if the legislation reaches his desk “then to a large extent I’ll be guided by that.”
A tough abortion bill is also advancing in Indiana. Earlier this week, the state Senate passed a bill that would mandate that women undergo an ultrasound before and after taking an abortion-inducing drug. It would essentially require clinics to conduct the invasive and controversial transvaginal ultrasounds on women.
This is hardly the first time state GOP lawmakers put forth such a bill. In Michigan earlier this month, lawmakers pushed a bill similar to the one in Indiana. After extreme backlash, Michigan House Speaker Jase Bolger said the House would not pass it.
Currently, in Texas, women must undergo a sonogram and hear a physician’s verbal description of what they are seeing (and ask the patient if she wants to hear a heartbeat) before an abortion is performed. Tennessee lawmakers are also considering a bill that would require an ultrasound at least 24 hours before an abortion.
Such legislation, of course, did not go over well in Virginia last year. Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell ultimately caved to criticism by squashing part of a bill that would require transvaginal ultrasounds.