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Arkansas governor admits: I signed near-total abortion ban as 'direct challenge' to Roe v. Wade


'It is not constitutional under Supreme Court cases right now'

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Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) declared Sunday that he signed into law one of the country's most restrictive abortion bills as a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade.

What does the law do?

Signed into law earlier this month, the Arkansas Unborn Child Protection Act bans all abortions in the state with just one exception — if the controversial procedure would save the life of the mother.

That means abortions on account of rape or incest are not legally permissible under the law. Those circumstances typically account for fewer than 1.5% of all abortions.

What did Hutchinson say?

Speaking on CNN's "State of the Union," the Republican governor admitted the law contradicts current Supreme Court precedent, but expressed hope it will be the impetus that forces the Supreme Court to review abortion rights.

In fact, Hutchinson said the "whole design" of the law was to challenge abortion rights.

"It is not constitutional under Supreme Court cases right now," Hutchinson said. "I signed it because it is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade. That was the intent of it."

"I think there's a very narrow chance that the Supreme Court will accept that case, but we will see," Hutchinson added, before reiterating, "This is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, and that's the intent of the legislation."

Still, Hutchinson admitted that he would "prefer a rape and incest exception."

"I would prefer— it's been my historic position that the three exceptions would be rape, incest and the life of the mother," Hutchinson explained.

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Will the Supreme Court hear a challenge?

Whether the Supreme Court will hear a case directly challenging the legality of abortion remains to be seen.

In recent years, the Supreme Court has rejected hearing some abortion-related cases, while it has decisively ruled on others.

Most recently, the Supreme Court ruled last year in June Medical Services, LLC v. Russo that a Louisiana law requiring abortion clinic doctors to have hospital admitting privileges was unconstitutional.

Critics of the new Arkansas law have vowed to legally challenge it.

The ACLU of Arkansas said, "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. Abortion is legal in all 50 states, including Arkansas, and we'll fight as long as it takes to keep it that way. Governor Hutchinson: we'll see you in court."

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