Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection Act (SB 134)

State:

Number: SB 134

Status: Blocked/Enjoined

Proposed: January 28, 2013

Enacted: March 6, 2013

Link: www.arkleg.state.ar.us...

Topics: , ,

Last updated Apr 18, 2014.

SUMMARY

SB 134 requires that an abortion provider attempt to detect a fetal heartbeat using “standard medical practice” prior to an abortion. An abortion is prohibited if a fetal heartbeat has been detected and if the fetus is 12 weeks’ or greater gestation except when: (1) the abortion is necessary to save the life of the patient; (2) the continuation of the pregnancy will result in the impairment of a major bodily function of the patient; (3) the abortion is necessary due to the existence of a lethal fetal disorder; or (4) the pregnancy was a result of rape or incest.

The bill specifies that an abortion provider shall use an abdominal ultrasound to detect a fetal heartbeat according to “standard medical practice, including the use of medical devices as determined by standard medical practice.”

Generally, an intrusive vaginal ultrasound is required to detect a fetal heartbeat, so the language in this bill—first specifying the use of an abdominal ultrasound, then requiring the use of medical devices as determined by “standard medical practice” may be a source of confusion for abortion providers attempting to comply with this bill. Notably, the heartbeat ban that Ohio attempted (and failed) to pass in 2013 (HB 248) specifically states that such examinations shall only be performed externally.

STATUS

The Arkansas House of Representatives overrode Gov. Beebe’s March 4, 2013 veto on March 5 and 6 to push this bill through the legislature.

The bill is currently blocked pending litigation. (See Edwards v. Beck.) A similar heartbeat ban in North Dakota is blocked. (See  MKB Management, Inc. v. Burdick.)