Many unsure who will police 20-week law against abortion

Going forward with most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy is officially against the law in Arkansas -- but how will it be enforced?

An emergency clause in House Bill 1037 makes it legal right now, but it doesn't say who is out there working to prevent it from happening.

This 20-week abortion bill has many of you taking either one side or the other, with few standing in the middle.

Something that hasn't been discussed much is what penalties professionals might face.

It took quite a bit of calling around. We touched base with the state's medical board, the Arkansas Department of Health and even a prosecuting attorney, but to no avail.

It seemed none of these departments knew exactly who would make sure the majority of abortions don't happen past 20 weeks of pregnancy, they just knew it wasn't them.

So then, we reached out to the author of the original bill, Arkansas State
Representative Andy Mayberry.

"I think that there probably is an educational process that will go on," Mayberry told us Tuesday. "Again, that's the way it is with any new law and it's no different than any others."

According to House Bill 1037, if a doctor performs the unlawful abortion they would face a Class D felony charge, which carries a sentence of up to six years in prison.

"There was some people who approached me about taking the penalty aspect out of the bill," Mayberry added. "I was not inclined to do that; it kind of takes the teeth out of the law."

Mayberry also believes it's more than enforceable. He said it would compare to a majority of other broken laws that are reported after the fact.

"More than anything, I'm hoping that we won't have to enforce it. Certainly the desirable thing would be that physicians wouldn't violate the law."

Another argument we heard today was that violating this law could not be prosecuted because many label it unconstitutional.

When we asked Mayberry about this he told said mirror-image bills in Arizona and Nebraska have both stood as state laws in those respective states.

However, the mother of the aborted child wouldn't face any penalty for going through with the procedure.

Bills to restrict abortions pass Ark. House (Feb. 4)
Ark. Senate passes 20 week abortion ban (Feb. 13)
20 week abortion bill heads to governor's desk (Feb. 21)
Beebe vetoes 20 week abortion bill (Feb. 26)
House votes to override governor's veto (Feb. 27)
Ark. Senate overrides veto on abortion bill (Feb. 28)
Roll call from veto vote in Ark. Senate (Feb. 28)
Beebe: Override doesn't change concerns about abortion ban (Feb. 28)
Override of Beebe's veto may open state to litigation (March 4)
Many unsure who would police 20 week abortion ban (March 5)