Arkansas is likely to be the first state to pass a bill similar to Texas’ six-week abortion ban ― the most extreme abortion restriction in U.S. history that has forced many to flee the state to receive care.
Arkansas state Sen. Jason Rapert (R) announced last week that he will introduce the Arkansas Heartbeat Protection Act on Oct. 25 during a special legislative session. Although Rapert has yet to formally release the bill, he said it will include “a civil cause of action ― just like Texas.” It’s very likely that the legislation will mirror S.B. 8, especially coming from Rapert who, when S.B. 8 became law in September, told news outlets: “What Texas has done is absolutely awesome.”
“Arkansas was recently named the most ProLife state in the nation,” Rapert said on Twitter earlier this week. “It should be easy to pass the Texas-style heartbeat bill in our upcoming Special Session.”
In addition to banning abortion after six weeks (a point at which many people don’t yet realize they’re pregnant), Texas’ S.B. 8 includes financial incentives for private citizens to seek out and sue anyone who “aids or abets” Texans trying to get an abortion. If someone successfully sues, they could receive a bounty of at least $10,000 and have all of their legal fees paid for by the opposing side.
“We are taking this very, very seriously,” said Emily Wales, the CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains. “We know that we have a number of legislators here in Arkansas who are eager to be on the frontlines of ending abortion access entirely ― no matter the impact on the citizens they serve.”