Arkansas became the most recent state to attempt a ban on most abortions when the state Senate passed a bill Feb. 22 that would outlaw the procedure after a fetal heartbeat can be detected.
J.D. Tucker, Arkansas Baptist State Convention executive director, applauded the legislation and praised the lawmakers who approved the bill.
“Arkansas Baptists continually advocate for the unborn and those born into challenging situations,” Tucker said. “Personally, I am thankful for legislation that aims to protect and value the life of the unborn and for all legislators who are willing to take a stand on this matter.”
Tucker also praised the continued work of Arkansas Baptists in protecting the lives of unborn children in their state through the work of crisis pregnancy centers, Arkansas Baptist Children’s Home and Family Ministries, foster care and local church ministries.
The bill passed on a 27-7 vote of the majority-Republican Senate and will now move to the majority-Republican House. The legislation passed mainly along party lines, with only one Democrat voting in favor of the bill and one Republican voting against it, The Associated Press (AP) reported.
The only exception to the ban listed in the bill is a medical emergency for the mother of the child. The bill does not include exceptions for rape or incest.
The Arkansas legislation comes days after a South Carolina abortion ban was signed into law Feb. 18 by South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster less than an hour after coming to his desk. The bill was suspended the next day for a 14-day period by South Carolina District Judge Mary Geiger Lewis.
Lewis said the suspension will be extended until March 9 when The Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the nation’s largest abortion provider, will argue in a hearing that the law should not be enforced until its lawsuit against the state is resolved. Planned Parenthood, along with the Center for Reproductive Rights, sued the state of South Carolina even before Gov. McMaster signed the bill into law.
According to AP, 13 states have passed legislation banning abortions after a heartbeat can be detected. All such laws have been suspended as they face court challenges. As a result of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and subsequent rulings upholding it, federal law currently allows abortion at any point during pregnancy.
The high court has previously struck down state laws that prevent abortions before a fetus can live outside the womb, but many conservative Christians believe the three conservative Supreme Court justices appointed by President Donald Trump could provide a different outcome in a hypothetical future court case challenging Roe v. Wade.
Tucker emphasized in a written statement the importance of viewing all human life as sacred and made in the image of God.
“The churches of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention place exceedingly high value on the worth and dignity of human life regardless of gender, race, age, ethnicity or socioeconomic factors,” he said. “Arkansas Baptists believe all children should be loved and protected – both born and unborn.”