Arkansas House passes near-total abortion ban, bill now moves to governor

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas lawmakers on Wednesday approved legislation banning nearly all abortions, sending the bill to a Republican governor who has expressed reservations about the move.

The majority-Republican House voted 75-18 for the bill, which bans all abortions except those to save the life of the mother in a medical emergency. The bill, which passed the Senate last month, does not include any exceptions for rape or incest.

Arkansas is one of at least 14 states where outright abortion bans have been proposed this year, an effort by conservative Republicans to force the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit its 1973 Roe v Wade decision that legalized the procedure nationwide.

Another sweeping abortion ban was signed into law by South Carolina’s governor last month but was quickly blocked by a federal judge due to a legal challenge by Planned Parenthood.

Before the vote, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who has approved several major abortion restrictions since taking office in 2015, said he supports “pro-life legislation” but stopped short of saying what he’d do with the bill. The governor previously said he’s concerned about the ban not including rape and incest exceptions, and the direct challenge to Roe v. Wade.

Abortion rights groups have said they’re prepared to challenge the ban if it’s enacted.

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