Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson Shies Away From Extreme Abortion Ban He Signed

Arkansas Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson tried to shirk responsibility on Sunday for signing a strict “activation law” would ban abortion in its state without any exceptions for rape and incest, stressing that Arkansas would reconsider that issue if Roe v. Wade overturned.

Between bombshell leak on Supreme Court majority opinion draft that would overturn federal abortion rights, Republican-led states have go under supervision on the anti-abortion law that will automatically come into effect if the high court opposes Roe v. Wade. One of the states with this so-called “trigger” ban is Arkansas, was signed into law by Hutchinson in 2019.

The state proposal would ban all abortions except for medical emergencies where the mother’s life is in danger, with absolutely no exceptions for rape and incest. In an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union However, on Sunday, Hutchinson insisted that he opposes the sweeping nature of his state’s abortion ban.

“Your law only makes exceptions for the mother’s life. So it should be made clear that, if Roe sues Wade overturns, no woman, unless her life is at risk, can have an abortion in Arkansas,” emphasized CNN host Dana Bash. with Hutchinson.

“If Roe v. Wade is reversed, the activation law in Arkansas will go into effect. And whenever I sign that law, I’ve expressed that I support — as well as the exceptions of rape and incest,” he replied. “Mother’s life and rape and incest are two exceptions that I believe should have been added without the support of the general assembly.”

He added that while they need to wait and see what the Supreme Court actually decides, if Roe v. Wade is actually reversed, it will return “authority back to the states” and “you will see the states make different decisions based on the values ​​and consensus of the people of that state”. Additionally, he said the “will of the people” in his state was embodied in Arkansas’ so-called “activation” laws.

“Governor, you signed legislation that doesn’t include any exceptions for rape and incest,” Bash pushed back. “I know you said you weren’t – you’d rather it wasn’t part of the law, but it is and you signed it.”

Present a hypothetical situation in which a pre-teen girl is impoverished by a family member, State of the Union The presenter asked the governor why the girl had to be forced to get pregnant.

“I agree with you,” the Republican governor replied. “I had to deal with that particular circumstance even as governor. And while it was still alive in the womb, the life of the fetus, the conception was already under criminal circumstances, or incest or rape. And those are the two exceptions that I recognize, which I believe are very relevant. And what happens over time if Roe v. Wade is reversed. These will become very real situations. ”

Hutchinson went on to say that he believes “debate and discussion will continue” on the issue and that the rape and incest exceptions are “very likely to be revisited” when it comes to state law.

“Governor, what if it doesn’t work?” Bash wondered. “You want the Arkansas legislature to put those exceptions in. They did not do so. Your deadline is coming to an end. What makes you think you can change it? ”

After CNN added that young girls could soon find themselves in these situations, Hutchinson said he replied that “those are heartbreaking circumstances” but that all of this rests with the states. passed their own laws on abortion.

“Over the past few years, as we pass these triggering laws, we are demonstrating a conviction,” he stated. “We are trying to return that power to the states and reduce abortion, but whenever you see such real-life cases, the debate will continue and the will of the people can be change or not, but it will come back to the states’ flexibility on that. ”

Hutchinson concludes: “I believe that overall those exceptions will be important to save lives because the public understands the importance of those exceptions. It will be reviewed. There are no guarantees about that but public opinion will matter whenever you come to your elected representatives. ”

The Arkansas governor, who is considering running for the White House in 2024, has also previously said he opposes a nationwide ban on abortion – largely because it would disqualify him from passing anti-abortion legislation. state abortion.

“I think that doesn’t fit with what we’ve been fighting for for decades, which is what we want Roe vs. Wade reversed and jurisdiction returned to the states,” he told ABC’s This week in the first day of this month. “So in principle, that’s where it should be.”

While Hutchinson shied away from the extreme nature of the state’s abortion ban that he signed into law, other GOP governors have leaned on the passage of comprehensive anti-abortion laws. For example, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, said last week that his “intent” was to push his state to quickly pass a bill outlawing abortion with no exceptions for rape and incest.

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