On Thursday, Arkansas joined seven other states by passing a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The new law will go into effect immediately. The Republican-controlled state senate voted to override Democratic Governor Mike Beebe’s Tuesday request to veto the bill.
The bill originated from a disputed suggesting the fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks. The new law will include exemptions for rape, incest, and any risk to the life of the mother. Something the bill does not include is any exemption for cases where the fetus has a disease or disorder. The 20-week ban should not be confused with the “heartbeat” bill, which, if passed, will require women who are seeking to terminate their pregnancies after 12 weeks to undergo an ultrasound. If the probe is able to detect a fetal heartbeat, the woman would not be allowed to undergo an abortion.
Governor Beebe said he vetoed the bill because "it would impose a ban on a woman's right to choose an elective, non-therapeutic abortion before viability, House Bill 1037, if it became law, would squarely contradict Supreme Court precedent," Beebe said in his veto letter, continuing,"When I was sworn in as governor I took an oath to preserve, protect and defend both the Arkansas Constitution and the Constitution of the United States. I take that oath seriously."
Many are concerned that the ban violates the U.S. Supreme Court ruling of Roe v. Wade, the case that resulted in the legalization of abortion until the point where the fetus can survive outside of the womb, which is usually around 22-24 weeks. But, public opinion of abortion has shifted over the last 40 years, according to TIME. While a third of Americans believe that abortion is okay in all or some circumstances, Americans have a varied view of abortion itself. The controversy of abortion seems to cause a knee-jerk reaction for most, automatically defending one side or the other. But, never before has medicine been so sophisticated.
The advancements made have allowed for babies delivered before 22-24 weeks to survive outside of the womb. Are we to base our current understanding of embryology on medical knowledge from 40 years ago, when Roe v. Wade went into effect?
Does that not seem a bit archaic and completely nonsensical? America should evaluate laws based on the most up-to-date information, not on discoveries from 40 years ago. Both sides of the aisle should take a step back, look at the current information, and make decisions based on that evidence.