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Arkansas governor signs near-total abortion ban

Anti-abortion activists gather behind the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. in January. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI
Anti-abortion activists gather behind the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. in January. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

March 9 (UPI) -- Arkansas on Tuesday enacted a near-total ban on abortion, setting the stage for a Supreme Court battle over reproductive rights.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed SB6 into law, allowing providers to only perform abortions "to save the life of a pregnant woman in a medical emergency" while providing no other exceptions for instances such as rape, incest or fetal anomalies.

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The law also institutes a fine of up to $100,000 and up to 10 years in prison for medical practitioners who violate the ban.

The bill is not set to take effect until 90 days after the Republican-held state legislature adjourns this year's session, currently set to end on May 3.

The Arkansas ACLU said on Twitter that it would sue to challenge the law before that date.

"This extreme abortion ban is cruel and unconstitutional and it will have accomplished nothing but cause stress for patients while ignoring the pressing challenges Arkansans face," it said.

Hutchinson issued a statement saying he signed the bill due to his "long-held pro-life convictions" while acknowledging it was likely to face challenges in the Supreme Court.

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"SB6 is in contradiction of binding precedents of the U.S. Supreme Court, but it is the intent of the legislation to set the stage for the Supreme Court overturning current case law," he said. "I would have preferred the legislation to include the exceptions for rape and incest, which has been my consistent view and such exceptions would increase chances for a review by the U.S. Supreme Court."

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