LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A bill filed by Rep. Nicole Clowney would create an exception to Arkansas’ near-total abortion ban when a fetus has abnormalities that would make it impossible to survive once born.
The bill, HB1301, would amend Arkansas law to say, “A person shall not purposely perform or attempt to perform an abortion except to save the life of a pregnant woman in a medical emergency or in the case of a fetal abnormality incompatible with life.”
“This is not a political issue,” Clowney said.
Clowney said most Arkansans support providing exceptions for certain cases.
“These are babies that have zero chance of survival,” Clowney said. “They are missing major parts of their anatomy that make their survival impossible.”
Bob Ballinger, a former Republican state senator who is now the Director of Law and Policy for the National Association of Christian Lawmakers, said his group opposes this bill.
“I would want to err on the side of caution and say give [the fetus] a chance,” Ballinger said.
Ballinger said the phrase, “abnormality incompatible with life,” is vague. He said he wonders whether this would have unintended implications.
“What does this mean? I don’t know,” Ballinger said. “Some people may say if a child has down syndrome, they may have a defect that’s incompatible with life.”
Clowney said the effect is not open-ended, and the exceptions would be rare but necessary.
“This problem is very real here,” Clowney said. “Hopefully, we can start to work together to get that solved.”
The bill will go before committee before advancing any further.