The Corner

Politics & Policy

Arkansas Lawmakers Sponsor Bill to Prohibit Nearly All Abortions

A pro-life demonstrator outside the Supreme Court during the the 47th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., January 24, 2020. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Two Republican lawmakers in Arkansas have put forward the “Unborn Child Protection Act,” a bill that would prohibit most abortions from the moment of conception. State senator Jason Rapert and state representative Mary Bentley are cosponsoring the legislation.

According to the draft text of the bill, all abortions would be disallowed “except to save the life of a pregnant woman in a medical emergency.” The legislation defines a medical emergency as a situation in which a pregnant woman’s “life is endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself.”

The law explicitly states that it does not authorize the charging of any woman who has obtained or attempted to obtain an abortion. Instead, it charges anyone who provides an abortion with a felony, punishable with a fine of up to $100,000 or up to ten years’ imprisonment.

“The State of Arkansas urgently pleads with the United States Supreme Court to do the right thing, as they did in one of their greatest cases, Brown v. Board of Education, which overturned a fifty-eight year-old precedent of the United States, and reverse, cancel, overturn, and annul Roe v. Wade, Doe v. Bolton, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey,” the draft bill text states, adding that the law is intended “to ensure that abortion in Arkansas is abolished and [to] protect the lives of unborn children.”

Since the bill was just introduced last month and has yet to undergo any revisions, committee hearings, or votes, its contours could well be altered over the course of the coming legislative session. Meanwhile, as is always the case with abortion restrictions, even if this legislation passes and is signed into law, it is certain to face a challenge from abortion providers and abortion-rights groups. Considering current abortion jurisprudence, courts almost certainly will side against Arkansas, at least until the status quo shaped by Roe and subsequent cases has changed.

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