FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Arkansas Women At Risk As Legal Abortion Access To End: Personal Healthcare Decisions & Rights To Be Handed Over To State Legislature
June 24, 2022
LITTLE ROCK – The U.S. Supreme Court decision to ignore precedent and to overturn Roe v. Wade is set to fall heaviest in states like Arkansas, where women will lose long-established reproductive healthcare rights, transferring the power of their personal rights to the GOP-dominated state legislature. In 2019, a hyperpartisan Arkansas legislature enacted a so-called “trigger” law that automatically ends legal access to abortion services in Arkansas in the event Roe v. Wade is overturned – with no exceptions for rape, incest, or fetal anomalies. The consequences of these decisions are far-reaching and devastating.
Arkansas Democrats are committed to protecting access to reproductive healthcare. It is a cornerstone of our belief that working for a healthier Arkansas means safe and legal access to abortion services when needed. According to the most recent Arkansas Poll conducted by the University of Arkansas, only 38% of Arkansas voters approved of making abortion harder to access.
“The people of Arkansas know how bad this is. Not only does the overturning of Roe mean access to safe abortion will cease to exist in Arkansas, it means the state is granting new rights to rapists and violent sex offenders to force their victim to carry a rape-caused pregnancy to term. Arkansas is home to the second highest rape rate in the country, and for lawmakers to minimize the effect the trigger law will have on women who have been raped is outrageous,” said State Rep. Ashley Hudson (Little Rock).
“We are entering a dangerous time,” continued Rep. Hudson. “Arkansans are good, smart, and compassionate, and they are demanding lawmakers fix Arkansas law to ensure no woman is prohibited from terminating a pregnancy that was caused by rape or incest.”
“This decision has sent a tremor through our nation,” said State Sen. Clarke Tucker (Little Rock). “This is an issue that transcends politics and pundits. This is about respecting fundamental rights and protecting the health, safety, and well-being of women. The bottom line is that state Legislatures do not need to be making personal, private medical decisions for women, families, and doctors. We know better than this, we know better than to walk down this road. Arkansas women have a tough path ahead to grapple with the fallout of this decision, and I am grateful for the many who are ready to walk forward together.”
“The medical privacy, decision-making and very life of women have been breached by what amounts to an attack on women for the sake of political power-mongering and the unfortunate cheapening of the U.S. Supreme Court. Government’s first and primary role is to protect its citizens, including women and especially children. This ruling destroys the promise of equal protection by waving the banner of state’s rights over the rights of women to choose and to live. Arkansas’s abortion ban with no exception for rape or incest is not just mean, it is a return to a time in which women and girls are excluded from governmental protection, instead criminalizing and terrorizing them,” said state Rep. Vivian Flowers (Pine Bluff). “It is my mission to stand in this breach and to encourage the women and men of this state to not let this pass in silence. This is a moment to not only be heard, but to act.”
“We now live in a different America, one where women’s rights and healthcare freedoms can’t just be taken for granted and must be defended,” said state Rep. David Whitaker (Fayetteville). “The Roe v. Wade backstop is gone. The Arkansas Legislature must trust women, act to ensure victims of rape and incest will have the right to terminate pregnancies caused by violence, and fully fund the programs we know reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies: age appropriate sex-ed, high quality pre-natal care, and access to contraceptives.”
Arkansas is one of 13 states with a so-called trigger law that will effectively outlaw legal access to abortion services as a repercussion of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to throw out half a century of legal precedent. Arkansas’s trigger law provides no exceptions for rape or incest and does allow abortion to save the life of the mother.