When a YouTube video surfaced of Senator Rapert addressing Tea Party members at a rally in 2011, he said the video was edited to make him seem like a racist. And even though he mentioned religion he says he's not anti-Muslim, but rather the video's emergence was an attack, and a setback to his latest effort to implement restrictions on abortion.
"What happened was the bill had such strength coming out of the Arkansas Senate, sometimes when people are opposed to things they will go to extreme lengths to stop it," he says of the edited version of his rally speech.
Tuesday attention swayed back toward the bill.
"I'm really watching my words these days," Rapert told a group of reporters.
He confirms the House committee tabled it for lack of support as it was written, requiring doctors to use the medical standard, a vaginal probe, to detect a fetus' heartbeat at roughly 5 to 6 weeks of pregnancy. He says he is amending the bill so that doctors will be required to conduct an exterior abdominal ultrasound that would extend the term to 10-12 weeks of pregnancy.
Opponents, such as the ACLU, argue it's still unconstitutional.
"His bill has gotten international attention, it is so extreme," says ACLU of Arkansas Director Rita Sklar.
Sklar, along with Theresa Biner, a constitutional law professor from UALR's Bowen School of Law, say even with the changes, the new heartbeat bill will still violate a woman's right to an abortion before viability, usually considered between 20 and 23 weeks.
"The legislature shouldn't be in there with her trying figure out what to do. Ten weeks, six weeks, 20 weeks, they shouldn't be there, they're not doctors," says Sklar.
Whether or not they will get one step closer to changing state abortion laws or attracting more lawsuits could be decided within weeks. Senator Rapert says he will attempt to re-file within a week.