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Arkansas House advances extreme 12-week abortion ban

A majority Republican committee in the Arkansas House of Representatives approved a bill on Thursday that would ban abortions after 12 weeks, with exceptions for rape, incest and the health of the mother. Democrats hold 11 of 20 seats on the committee, and two of them joined with the nine Republicans to support the ban.

If passed, the law would be the most extreme abortion restriction in the country.

Want to really freak out? The original legislation banned abortion at six weeks, but lawmakers decided to "compromise" and "quiet legal concerns" by pushing the cutoff to 12 weeks. "We believe we have struck the proper balance," said the bill's sponsor Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Conway, without any apparent irony.

Rapert defended his bill to fellow lawmakers by saying, "I'm asking you to stand up for life, and I believe when there is a heartbeat, based upon even the standard the Supreme Court has utilized, you cannot have a viable child without a heartbeat."

The bill violates the current legal definition of fetal viability, which Roe v. Wade holds at 22 - 24 weeks. Which is kind of the point, critics say.

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