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Arkansas Governor Goes On Defense About Near-Total Abortion Ban He Signed

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Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) on Sunday insisted victims of rape and incest needs to be allowed to have abortions despite him signing a so-called trigger law that outlaws nearly all abortions in his state, including those resulting from incest or rape.

Hutchinson, when confronted about his conflicting stance in an interview with CNN’s “State of the Union,” said when he signed that bill in 2019, he made it known that he didn’t entirely agree with it.

“The lifetime of the mother, and rape and incest are two exceptions that I feel must have been added,” Hutchinson told host Dana Bash. He blamed his state’s Republican-majority legislature for leaving those exceptions out of the bill, which only permits abortion in cases of medical emergency.

Hutchinson said if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade ― the landmark 1973 decision that expanded access to abortion nationwide ― he thinks his state’s abortion law “may very well be revisited.”

Bash pressed that such a reconsideration may not occur and, if it does, there would still be a period within the meantime through which rape and incest victims legally wouldn’t be permitted an abortion.

“You wanted the legislature in Arkansas to place those exceptions in. They didn’t. Your term is sort of up. What makes you think that you possibly can change it? And when you can’t, that implies that … 11- and 12-year-olds could also be in this example in a really possible way in only a few months potentially,” she said.

“Those are heartbreaking circumstances,” Hutchinson responded. “We’re attempting to return that authority to the states, and to scale back abortions but, each time you see real-life circumstances like that, that debate goes to proceed and the desire of the people may or may not change, nevertheless it’s going to return back to the states’ flexibility on that.”

He added that he believes his state’s constituents understand the “importance” of those exceptions for allowing abortions and that he thinks it can be revisited.

“There’s no guarantee of that but the general public opinion does matter each time you come to your elected representatives,” he said.

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