Gov. Asa Hutchinson says Arkansas’ near-total abortion ban should be reviewed if Supreme Court overturns Roe v Wade

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — Arkansas’ near-total abortion ban should be “revised” to include exceptions for cases of rape or incest if the Supreme Court finds Roe v. Wade should be ousted, the state’s Republican governor said Sunday.

“While it is still life in the womb, the life of the unborn, the conception took place under criminal circumstances, either incest or rape. And so those are two exceptions that I recognize as very appropriate,” said Gov. Asa Hutchinson to CNN Bash’s Dana on “State of the Union” when asked why a young girl who has been impregnated by a family member should be forced to carry that child to term.

“And what will happen over time when Roe v. Wade is reversed, these become very real circumstances. I think the debate and discussion will – will go on and that could very well be revisited,” he said, later adding, “I think those exceptions are going to be important… overall, to save lives, because the public understands these exceptions and their meaning. So I think that will be picked up again.”

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Hutchinson’s comments come as the debate over access to abortion intensified after a draft US Supreme Court opinion, written by conservative Justice Samuel Alito, was leaked earlier this month and showed the Supreme Court was ready to Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide. A number of Republican-led states have pushed strict abortion measures in anticipation of Roe’s possible reversal this year, including Oklahoma, where lawmakers last week sent its GOP governor a bill banning abortions from the “fertilization” stage and private abortions Citizens can sue abortion providers who “knowingly” perform or cause an abortion “on a pregnant woman.”

Arkansas’ abortion ban, signed into law by Hutchinson in March 2021, would go into effect if Roe is reversed.

The law would ban providers from performing abortions “except to save the life of a pregnant woman in a medical emergency,” and makes no exceptions for cases of rape, incest, or fetal abnormalities. Those found violating the law face fines of up to $100,000 and up to 10 years in prison.

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The governor was blunt about the bill’s goal of overhauling abortion rights. He told CNN last year, “I signed it because it was a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade is.”

The law was temporarily blocked by a federal judge last year after the American Civil Liberties Union, American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, Planned Parenthood and other abortion rights groups sued the state.

Republican Senator Jason Rapert of Arkansas, who backed the ban, denounced rape and incest last year but stood by the law’s lack of exceptions for the two crimes, saying, “How could we look at a human baby and say that it is not worthy of life just because her birth was the result of an act of violence.”

MORE: 5 abortion myths debunked as Supreme Court rules on future of Roe v. Wade decides

Arkansas already has several abortion restrictions in place. Abortion seekers must receive personal warning from their providers 72 hours in advance, including information about pregnancy and newborn care and child support services, to gain access to the procedure. Abortion after 20 weeks is already banned in the state, except in cases of rape, incest, or life-threatening or other serious physical harm to the pregnant woman.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia company. All rights reserved. Gov. Asa Hutchinson says Arkansas’ near-total abortion ban should be reviewed if Supreme Court overturns Roe v Wade

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