On Wednesday, the Arkansas legislature lurched forward with a radical measure to ban most abortions if a fetal heartbeat is detected within six weeks of a pregnancy, a requirement experts say will force the state to insert a probe into a woman’s vagina to detect.
The bill also penalizes doctors who perform abortions after the arbitrary cut-off date with a Class D felony, carrying up to six years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. The chief sponsor of the measure is Republican State Senator Jason Rapert, a fiddle-playing financial planner with his own evangelical outreach center that hosts mission trips to Uganda, Ghana and the Philippines. He has been among the loudest anti-abortion politicians in the state, and has sponsored a number of other radical bills, including a very strange effort to organize a constitutional convention to give state legislatures power over the national debt limit.
Here he is at a Tea Party rally from 2011, not only complaining about Obama’s Ramadan event but also warning the president that his people have had enough of “minorities” running the country (emphasis added):
RAPERT: I hear you loud and clear, Barack Obama. You don’t represent the country that I grew up with. And your values is not going to save us. We’re going to take this country back for the Lord. We’re going to try to take this country back for conservatism. And we’re not going to allow minorities to run roughshod over what you people believe in!
Watch it (via video uploaded by Keep Arkansas Legal, an anti-immigrant group):
In another part of the same speech, Rapert proudly declares himself a birther and attacks the state Supreme Court for knocking down a ban on gay adoptions — another example, apparently, of “minority interests running roughshod over you and me.”
While Rapert certainly enjoys wide support in many corners of the evangelical movement (here he is Rev. John Hagee), what interests me is how many white-shoe corporations stepped in to support his candidacy last year. A look at his final campaign finance report reveals direct corporate dollars and corporate political action committees sponsored by companies not necessarily known for associating with the war on reproductive rights:
Here are some examples: Southwestern Energy Company PAC gave $2,000; ARCH PAC, of Arch Coal, gave $1,000; Eli Lilly and Company gave $500; Lisa Allen, an executive with Cox Communications, gave $1,000; Nucor Corp PAC of AR gave $500; AT&T Arkansas PAC gave $2,000; Verizon gave $1,000; and American Electric Power PAC gave $500.