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Gov. Hutchinson says exceptions needed for rape, incest in Arkansas' abortion laws

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ABC News
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Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he believes states should be able to decide abortion laws, not the federal government.

After a media leak revealed the U.S. Supreme Court could overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that made abortion a constitutional right, Gov. Asa Hutchinson made an appearance Sunday on ABC News' "This Week" to explain abortion laws in Arkansas.

He said if the ruling is overturned, the state has trigger laws in place that would immediately ban abortions. Last year, the governor signed into law a bill to prohibit all abortions, except if the mother’s life is in danger. Although he signed it into law, Hutchinson expressed reservations at the time about the bill since it didn’t make exceptions for rape and incest. He said Sunday he still has those concerns and believes more support is needed for women in those situations.

“It’s difficult, so you have to understand that and you have to provide services. We want to increase services for maternal health to increase the services for adoption services as well. We want to invest in those areas that will help those women with very difficult pregnancy circumstances,” Hutchinson said.

If Roe v. Wade is overturned, Hutchinson said he would like to see the state make changes to its trigger laws to add exceptions for rape and incest. With his term ending before the next regular session of the Legislature taking place, Hutchinson would need to call a special session. The governor said he will wait until the Supreme Court has released an official ruling before calling a special session, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

Arkansas is one of 13 states that have trigger laws in place if Roe v. Wade is overturned, according to Ballotpedia. Arkansas is also one of five states that would have a near total ban on abortions.

When asked about his thoughts on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wanting to institute a national abortion ban, Hutchinson, who is the chairman of the National Governors Association, said he believes it is an issue to be determine by the states.

“I think that is inconsistent with what we’ve been fighting for decades, which is that we wanted Roe v. Wade reversed and the authority to return to the states,” Hutchinson said. “As a matter of principle, that’s what it should be."

KUAR News reached out to the offices of Sen. John Boozman, R-Arkansas, and Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, on whether they support McConnell's push for a national ban on abortion or if they shared Hutchinson's belief. Neither of the offices responded to the station's emails.

Hutchinson, who has previously served as a U.S attorney, also said he wasn’t sure if a national ban on abortions was constitutional.

The Supreme Court’s final ruling on Roe v. Wade is expected in late June or early July.