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Rapert to amend 'heartbeat' bill again

Posted: February 12, 2013 - 9:41pm



LITTLE ROCK — The sponsor of legislation to ban abortions at 12 weeks said Tuesday he would add more exemptions to address concerns raised about the measure.

Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Conway, said Senate Bill 134, titled The Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection Act, will be amended to include exemptions for medical emergencies and for fetal disorders that likely would be fatal for the child. The bill already includes exemptions to save the life of the mother or for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.

The new exemptions “specifically would deal with many different fetal anomalies or fetal disorders, but specifically some of the most horrible that families have had to deal with, like anencephaly,” in which a child is born without parts of the brain and skull, Rapert said.

He also said the bill also will be amended to remove criminal penalties for doctors.

In its current form, the bill would make doctors who violate the measure subject to a Class D felony charge, punishable upon conviction by up six years in prison. Rapert said the bill will be amended to make the only penalty a revocation of the doctor’s license.

“There were people that were for the bill but were a little uncomfortable with the felony language,” he said. “I agreed with them that revocation of a license is a career ender for physicians.”

Rapert has amended the bill before. As originally written, the measure would have required any woman seeking an abortion to undergo a test for a fetal heartbeat and would have prohibited the abortion if a heartbeat is detected.

The bill passed in that form in the Senate. It stalled in the House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee amid objections that it would require women to undergo an invasive trans-vaginal ultrasound and effectively would ban abortions at about six weeks, when a fetal heartbeat can first be detected.

Rapert agreed to an amendment stating that the bill would not ban abortions before 12 weeks and that the heartbeat test would be conducted via external abdominal ultrasound. The bill then passed out of the committee.

Rapert said Tuesday he had enough support in the House to get the bill passed without any further changes, but he learned that the bill needed to go back to the committee to correct drafting errors, so he decided to take the opportunity to offer a new amendment to address other concerns about the bill.

“We feel like that we definitely now have a bill that has even broader support than it did a few weeks ago when it came out of the Senate,” he said.

Rapert said he expected the bill to be amended in the House Public Health Committee this week and to be on the House floor for a vote on Monday.

The proposed amendments do not address concerns raised by some, including the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood, that the bill is unconstitutional because it would ban abortions before viability, or the point at which a fetus is able to survive outside the womb. Doctors generally consider a fetus to be viable at 23 or 24 weeks.

Gov. Mike Beebe has said the bill appears to be unconstitutional but has not said whether he would veto it.

Another bill moving through the Legislature, HB 1037 by Rep. Andy Mayberry, R-Hensley, would ban abortions at 20 weeks — the point at which the bill contends a fetus can feel pain — except to save the mother from death or severe physical impairment. It contains no exceptions for rape or incest.

Mayberry’s bill has passed in the House but has not yet cleared the Senate Public Health Committee.

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lachowsj 02/12/13 - 11:36 pm

Still unconstitutional

Rapert is trying to clean up the most egregious errors in his bill. Unfortunately for him (and for the State of Arkansas if the bill becomes law because the taxpayers will have to pay for the legal defense), it will still be found unconstitutional.

reader 02/12/13 - 11:37 pm

This seems to be one unending amendment process

for someone who supposedly consulted with "legal scholars" before proposing the original bill. There are a lot of issues to deal with in birth. For a man with children, Mr. Rapert seems to be ignorant of most of them.

As for Andy Mayberry's bill, it seems he is just another misogynist mouth breather from the sticks. No exception for rape or incest? What an inconsiderate bastard. IMHO.

BuzzBy 02/13/13 - 08:54 am

It Is OK


There Speedracer
In this next change they are adding that the father's of these unwanted births that can't afford to support them will be treated to a mandtory free vasectomy. When that clause kicks in I bet the fathers will no longer go riding bareback and take more interest in birth control.

Trin 02/13/13 - 08:10 am

Oh Mr. Rapert..........just

Oh Mr. Rapert..........just give it up already. When it gets this difficult - I think it's a clear sign that neither the people NOR the Governor will see such a bill pass. We don't want it. Go away.

crypted quill
crypted quill 02/13/13 - 09:03 am

Leave it to the money changer

Leave it to the money changers implementation of default swap (win if you win, win if you lose) hedging strategy, default swap, never-ending Abortion Bill.

As noted today by Max Brantley --


lachowsj 02/13/13 - 10:09 am

Thanks for the link, cryp

It is a little depressing to think Rapert can act with knowing reckless disregard for the constitution, make taxpayers eat the cost of litigation and still come out ahead politically.

em429 02/13/13 - 11:08 am


As in my recent past comments i was in support of the first version of the bill and the simplicity of it. Heartbeat... done.

Now with so many exceptions, who knows at what stages of pregnancy it would take to diagnose them all. Sounds to me that it will take 23-24 weeks for there to be evidence of these "exceptions."

This bill would not change anything than what current law covers. Move on, go waste my tax dollars on whatever nonsense you will go after next.

Bobo 02/13/13 - 11:59 am

Yeah, maybe you're finally getting it. He calls himself

pro-life, but he really just likes collecting a paycheck at taxpayer and lobbyist expense. I can't think of any politician that's any different.

357 02/13/13 - 11:19 am

I certainly commend Senator

I certainly commend Senator Rapert for trying to make changes to something that is so wrong using the political system which has become so burdensome.

As a taxpayer, I don't really care if women want to kill their own babies or not, they will have to live with that. But, I don't want to subsidize paying for it with my tax dollar.

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