The “no” vote of Rep. Justin Harris, R-West Fork, against the so-called “fetal heartbeat” anti-abortion bill surprised a lot of people. Monday night, Harris gave his reason: The bill was amended to allow abortions if tests show the fetus is unlikely to live. Harris said that, before he was born, he was a fetus unlikely to live. Tests did not show, however, that more than one child was involved.
The full press release here:
West Fork, AR,February 18, 2013: State Representative Justin Harris (R-West Fork) today issued the following statement regarding SB134, the Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection Act, by Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway) that will be heard in the House Public Health Committee on Tuesday:
“Many know that I am a strong advocate for the unborn in Arkansas and in the United States. I feel strongly that God is the author of when life begins and when it ends. I believe exceptions can be made only when a woman is a victim of rape, incest, or when her life is in danger.
“After much prayer, soul searching, and talking with my wife and family, I want to share with you something many of my friends and constituents do not know about me.This is what lead to my “No” vote on the most recent amendment to SB134.
“I was born with a congenital brain malformation, called Arnold-Chiari. It is considered a rare neural tube defect in the category of Anencephaly, Acephaly, Acrania, Acalvaria, Inciencephaly, and Encephalocele. Arnold-Chiari is in the same category as the “highly lethal fetal defects” that the amendment talks about. There are 4 stages or types of Arnold-Chiari. I have type II. I had surgery in January of 2005 to remove the Occipital Bone, the base of the skull, to relieve pressure.
“When we were faced with surgery and the complications of Arnold-Chiari in 2004 my wife was pregnant with our last child. We disclosed the surgery and the diagnoses with our OBGYN. He became angry with Marsha and me and asked us why we would want to have children. He then proceeded to demand us to start a line of testing on our fetus, which we refused. He stated that we could have the opportunity to terminate if we chose to. After much heated debate, we decided to have a live ultra-sound between the NWA doctor and AR Children’s Hospital for possible detection of a brain malformation or spina bifida. At the time, there was no detection for either.
“This issue has caused a great deal of emotions and debate. I promised my constituents of District 81 that I was a person who would stand up for them and protect the rights of the unborn, even if it meant standing alone. Now is the time for me to do that. This is not a perfect bill, but it achieves the goal of protecting the unborn. If I was aborted, that would have made two. My mother didn’t know she was having identical twins until she delivered us in 1975! Marsha and I pray daily for those that have ended a life too soon and let us show compassion for those that have chosen to do so.”