US state of Arkansas bans nearly all abortions in sweeping measure

WION Web Team
Washington, DC, United States of America Published: Mar 10, 2021, 10:05 AM(IST)

Asa Hutchinson Photograph:( Reuters )

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The only exception to the Arkansas law is "to save the life of the mother in a medical emergency," Asa Hutchinson, the governor of the southern state known for its Christian conservatism, announced on Tuesday.

The US state of Arkansas has passed a law banning abortion even in cases of rape or incest -- a measure that will be the nation's strictest abortion regulation if it is not overturned in court.

The only exception to the Arkansas law is "to save the life of the mother in a medical emergency," Asa Hutchinson, the governor of the southern state known for its Christian conservatism, announced on Tuesday.

Hutchinson said he signed the law due to his "sincere and long-held pro-life convictions," adding that "it is the intent of the legislation to set the stage for the Supreme Court overturning current case law."

The Arkansas law will not come into force before the summer, and the powerful ACLU civil rights organisation has already announced that it will challenge it in court.

Abortion divides the American population, with strong opposition especially among evangelical Christians.

In recent years, several states in the south and the centre of the country have increased restrictive laws on abortion, forcing many clinics to close their doors.

Then-president Donald Trump's appointment of Amy Coney Barrett as a Supreme Court judge in October locked in a 6-to-3 conservative majority on the court, and raised the possibility of overturning Roe v Wade, the 1973 ruling on abortion rights. If overturned, individual states would be able to set abortion regulations.

Alabama is the only state to have recently passed a similarly sweeping anti-abortion policy, when the state made it a felony for doctors to perform abortions except to save a mother's life in 2019. That law was struck down in federal court.

(with inputs from agencies)

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