It’s back! The Republican-mandated invasive transvaginal ultrasound has returned in Arkansas (they never stop trying), where Sen. Jason Rapert (yes! Rapert was his name-o!) is hiding the ultrasound requirement in … yet another “fetal heartbeat” anti-abortion bill: Spread ‘Em, Ladies: Rapert Toughens Anti-Abortion Bill.
The new Rapert bill would prohibit an abortion if a heartbeat is detected, a limitation that moves the potential prohibition in Arkansas law to the 5th week of pregnancy, far beyond the pre-viability protection period that the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld. Viability has generally been considered at the 23rd to 24th week, though anti-abortion legislatures have tried to move that to 20 weeks, a move that is under challenge in court. Such legislation is being offered again in Arkansas and could be considered in committee this week. It’s even meaner in some ways than Rapert’s bill — no exception for rape and incest or mental health of mother.
The new Rapert bill would require a check for heartbeat by “standard medical practice, including the use of medical devices as determined by standard medical practice.” The bill doesn’t spell it out, but at the earliest stage of a pregnancy, this requirement would mean a transvaginal probe. To get an abortion under the Rapert legislation, a woman in the earliest stage of pregnancy (when most abortions are sought and performed) would be forced to submit to a vaginal probe rather than a standard ultrasound passed over the abdomen. And, if five weeks pregnant and a heartbeat was detected, a woman would be told an abortion was illegal.
Abortions to save a mother’s life are excepted as are pregnancies resulting from rape and medical emergencies. But instrumental rape is OK.
It would be a Class D felony for a doctor to perform an abortion after detecting a heartbeat. The woman would not be subject to prosecution.