Attempting to make religious practices legal requirements
I greatly object to laws that extend requirements/prohibitions peculiar to one religion so that they apply even to those who do not observe the religion—for example, I would object to pork being made unavailable because Muslims, Jews, Seventh-Day Adventists, and doubtless others somehow were moved to enact legislation requiring that everyone observe their religious dietary laws. Or another example: to forbid access to contraception not just for members of one religion, but everyone, regardless of religion or lack thereof. That law (in Connecticut) was only recently overturned in this country. And now the insane abortion laws. Look, there is no requirement that anyone get an abortion. The requirement is that even those who do not share one’s religious beliefs get to decide for themselves whether or not to have an abortion. No one insists that they do, and no one should be trying to insist that they do not. Or so I believe. Others think that certain religious requirements or prohibitions should become law and be observed by everyone, regardless of religious belief or not. And—I bet this is just one of those weird coincidences—it turns out that of all the many religious beliefs from which to choose, the ones that should be made into law turn out to match those held by the legislator. I think you’ll find that’s the rule, though on chance alone it would practically never happen.
In the sharpest challenge yet to Roe v. Wade, Arkansas adopted Wednesday what is by far the country’s most restrictive ban on abortion, at 12 weeks of pregnancy, around the time that a fetal heartbeat can be detected by abdominal ultrasound.
The law was passed by the newly Republican-controlled legislature over the veto of Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat, who called it “blatantly unconstitutional.” On Tuesday the state Senate voted to override his veto by a vote of 20 to 14; on Wednesday the House enacted the bill into law by a vote of 55 to 33, with several Democrats joining the Republican majority.
The law contradicts the limit established by Supreme Court decisions, which give women a right to an abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb, usually around 24 weeks into pregnancy, and pro-choice groups promised a quick lawsuit to block it.
Adoption of the law, called the “Human Heartbeat Protection Act,” is the first statewide victory for a restless emerging faction within the anti-abortion movement that has lost patience with the incremental whittling away at abortion rights — the strategy of established groups like National Right to Life and the Catholic Church while they wait for a more sympathetic Supreme Court.
“When is enough enough?” asked the bill’s sponsor in the legislature, Senator Jason Rapert, a 40-year-old Republican and conservative Christian, who compared the more than 50 million abortions in the United States since Roe v. Wade, in 1973, to the Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide. “It’s time to take a stand.”
But pro-choice groups and many legal experts, including some in the anti-abortion movement, say the law so sharply contradicts existing constitutional doctrine that it will quickly be voided. . .