Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed Tuesday a bill that would effectively ban abortion procedures in Arkansas. All of Ashley County’s legislators voted for the measure.
Senate Bill 6, which District 26 Sen. Ben Gilmore (R-Crossett) co-sponsored and voted for, reads in part,” A person shall not purposely perform or attempt to perform an abortion except to save the life of a pregnant woman in a medical emergency.”
It classifies abortion as a felony and levees a fine of up to $100,000 and imprisonment for up to 10 years or both.
Rep. Howard Beaty Jr. (R-Crossett), Rep. Jeff Wardlaw (R-Hermitage), and Rep. Mark McElroy (R-Tilar) also cast votes in favor of the bill when it went before the House on March 3.
“I have proudly kept my promise to the voters of southeast Arkansas by voting to defend life and ban abortions in Arkansas,” Gilmore said in an email statement. “I was honored to join many of my Republican colleagues as a cosponsor and ensuring passage of SB6 through both chambers and finally to the Governor. It is my prayer that this legislation will save many unborn lives.”
When he signed the bill Tuesday, Hutchinson said he expects it to serve as a challenge to current case law.“
SB6 is a pro-life bill that prohibits abortion in all cases except to save the life of the mother in a medical emergency. It does not include exceptions for rape and incest,” Hutchinson said.
“I will sign SB6 because of overwhelming legislative support and my sincere and long-held pro-life convictions. SB6 is in contradiction of binding precedents of the U.S. Supreme Court, but it is the intent of the legislation to set the stage for the Supreme Court overturning current case law. I would have preferred the legislation to include the exceptions for rape and incest, which has been my consistent view, and such exceptions would increase the chances for a review by the U.S. Supreme Court.”
The bill as engrossed says that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions that have legalized and solidified abortion rights in the country are a “grave injustice and a crime against humanity.” The bill says that the cases have “not ben accepted by scholars, judges and the American people.”
The American Civil Liberty Union (ACLU) of Arkansas has already promised to challenge the bill, which became Act 309 when it was signed.
“We’ll be seeing the state of Arkansas in court,” the organization said in a social media post. Among a list of other things, in its reasoning as enrolled the bill cities public support for adoption, and points out that all 50 states have adopted Safe Haven laws, “to eliminate all burden of child care from women who do not want to care for a child.”
The bill clarifies that it does not, “Authorize the charging or conviction of a woman with any criminal offense in the death of her own unborn child.” It likewise said it should not be understood to,“Prohibit the sale, use, prescription, or administration of a contraceptive measure, drug, or chemical if the contraceptive measure, drug, or chemical is administered before the time when a pregnancy could be determined through conventional medical testing and if the contraceptive measure, drug, or chemical is sold, used, prescribed, or administered in accordance with manufacturer instructions.”
The state had already enacted a so-called “trigger ban” that would prohibit abortion if Roe v. Wade, the case that legalized abortion in the United States in 1973, was ever overturned.
SB 6 can be read in its entirety at bit.ly/38ptscQ.