Dr. John DiPippa, Dean Emeritus and Distinguished Professor of Law and Public Policy at UALR
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Arkansas legislators made history Wednesday by passing the toughest abortion legislation in the country, but will it hold up in court?
Some law professors that THV 11 spoke with said though the bill is set to go into effect 90 days after the legislative session ends, it's unlikely it ever will.
By a vote of 56 to 33, Wednesday Arkansas Representatives put into the law the strictest abortion legislation in the United States.
"Under current law, both Roe V. Wade and the updating of Roe in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, this bill is clearly unconstitutional," said UALR Bowen School of Law Dean Dr. John DiPippa.
He explained that Arkansas' Fetal Heartbeat Protection Act has a different definition of when a fetus becomes a person than the federal definition described in Roe vs. Wade. That means the law, along with others like it, can be challenged all the way up to the Supreme Court. DiPippa said it could take years to determine its constitutionality and until then, not much will change.
"Most likely what will happen is that law will be challenged in a federal trial court, called the district court, and that court will then adjoin the enforcement of the law, so it will never go into effect. Then, the legal arguments will take place through the various levels of the court until a final decision is reached," DiPippa said.
The ACLU is already starting the court process, vowing to file a lawsuit against the state within weeks.
"We are going to go straight to court and restore the rights of women and their reproductive life and take it out of the hands of politicians," said Arkansas ACLU Executive Director Rita Sklar.
But, until the courts decide, DiPippa said, Arkansas' abortion laws will remain the same.
"The most likely outcome here is that nothing will change pending the outcome of the ultimate court decision," said DiPippa.
DiPippa added that though this is a one of a kind bill, other states are passing similar fetal protection acts that are already making their way through the court system. He said the Supreme Court is as conservative as it could be for an entire generation, and if there were a chance to overturn Roe V. Wade, anti-abortion activists believe it could be now.