by Max Brantley
I hope to have a report shortly on Senate committee consideration of Rep. Andy Mayberry's bill to ban abortions beginning with the 20th week of pregnancy, a significant shortening of the pre-viability period in which the U.S. Supreme Court has barred states from banning abortion. An Arizona 20-week bill has been upheld at the federal district court level, however, and is now on appeal.
Democratic Rep. Butch Wilkins of Jonesboro, an abortion opponent who has his own bill to prevent private health insurance exchange coverage of abortions, tells Leslie Peacock that he's been informed Mayberry's bill will not clear the Senate committee without an exception for rape and incest. Mayberry had made it clear in the House committee that his bill did not contain these exceptions. "A senator came to me this morning asking questions," Wilkins said. Wilkins' bill was endorsed by the Senate committee this morning and headed to final passage.
The Senate committee is controlled by Republicans. But Republicans, after some infamous political pratfalls over rape exceptions in abortion during the last campaign, have been counseled by strategists to avoid getting to the rape/abortion quagmire. Even Sen. Jason Rapert, with the most far-reaching abortion ban imaginable, has taken pains to emphasize his ban of most abortions would still allow rape abortions and even for some extraordinary medical emergencies in addition to life of the mother.
UPDATE: KARK says there was no vote on Mayberry's bill in committee today. He was quoted as saying he needed to speak individually with senators.