Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R)—who supported a near-absolute ban on abortions in his own state—told ABC Sunday he would oppose a national abortion ban, arguing the idea goes against the principle of self-determination for states, as some Republicans indicate they may push for federal abortion restrictions if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade this year.
Hutchinson told This Week host Martha Raddatz he supports striking down Roe v. Wade so that abortion policy decisions can be returned to the states, and a national ban would be “inconsistent with what we’ve been fighting for for decades.”
Arkansas is one of 13 states with “trigger laws” that would immediately ban abortion in nearly all cases if the Supreme Court chooses to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which held that a woman’s right to have an abortion is protected by the Constitution.
Arkansas’ law, which Hutchinson signed in 2021, makes attempting to perform an abortion a felony punishable by up to 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $100,000, except to save the life of a pregnant woman in a “medical emergency.”
While the law targets abortion providers, it does not allow for charges to be brought against women who undergo or attempt to undergo the procedure.
The law doesn’t include exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, but Hutchinson told ABC he supports revising the law to include those exceptions, and he expected the topic would quickly become a focus of debate if Roe v. Wade were overturned.
On Monday, Politico published a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion reflecting a vote to strike down both Roe v. Wade and the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision, which mainly confirmed Roe but said states can ban abortions of viable fetuses unless the mother’s health is at risk. In the leaked draft, which Chief Justice John Roberts said is authentic but doesn’t necessarily reflect the court’s final position, conservative Justice Samuel Alito wrote that Roe v. Wade was poorly reasoned and had promoted division and conflict around the issue of abortion, and said states can decide on their own whether to allow the procedure. Some Republican legislators and anti-abortion groups are working on a national ban on most abortions that could be passed if Roe v. Wade is overturned during the current Supreme Court session and Republicans retake control of Congress following the November midterms, the Washington Post reported Monday. Several days after the high court’s draft decision was leaked, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told USA Today if the Supreme Court moves to overturn Roe v. Wade, both local and national abortion bans were “possible.” However, McConnell said he would not support abandoning the filibuster rule—which effectively requires 60 votes to pass a bill in the Senate—in order to pass an abortion ban.
What To Watch For
The Supreme Court is reconsidering Roe v. Wade in a case involving a Mississippi law that sought to ban all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The court is expected to rule on the issue by the end of its current session, which is expected to end in late June or early July.
Over the past 15 years, support for abortion rights has grown overwhelmingly widespread among Democrats while remaining fairly unpopular among Republicans. From 2007 to 2022, the proportion of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents who supported keeping abortion legal in all or most cases rose from 63% to 80%, while the share of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents fell from 39% to 38%, according to a Pew Research Center poll. Pew found in a March survey that 61% of all U.S. adults believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 37% believe it should be illegal in all or most cases.
While Arkansas and 12 other states have created trigger laws to ban abortion immediately if Roe v. Wade is overturned, other states have passed laws to maintain some of the abortion rights currently guaranteed at the national level. Sixteen states have laws protecting the right to abortion, including four states that protect the right to abortion throughout pregnancy, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion-rights research group.
“Supreme Court May Soon Overturn Roe V. Wade—Here Are The States With Abortion Protections If It Does” (Forbes)