Arkansas governor signs bill banning nearly all abortions
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) on Tuesday signed a bill into law banning nearly all abortions in the state.
Hutchinson said in a statement that he was signing the bill “because of overwhelming legislative support and my sincere and long-held pro-life convictions.”
The new statute is poised to set up a fierce battle in the state, with supporters hoping it will force the Supreme Court to revisit the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Opponents say they are committed to blocking the law before it takes effect later this year.
“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,” Hutchinson said.
Once the legislation takes effect, abortions will be administered in the state only to save the life of the mother. The bill does not provide exceptions for individuals impregnated by rape or incest, which is one reason Hutchinson did not immediately express support for the bill after its passage in the Arkansas House, The Associated Press reported.
Hutchinson said he “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” but indicated he would sign the bill regardless.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Arkansas condemned the move, vowing to fight the measure.
“Once again, Arkansas politicians have made it their business to dictate people’s personal medical decisions, violate their personal autonomy, and block them from care,” ACLU of Arkansas Executive Director Holly Dickson said in a statement.
“This extreme abortion ban is cruel and unconstitutional and it will have accomplished nothing but cause stress for patients, while ignoring the pressing challenges Arkansans face,” she added. “Abortion is legal in all 50 states, including Arkansas, and we’ll fight as long as it takes to keep it that way. Governor Hutchinson: we’ll see you in court.”
The Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organization that aims to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights in the U.S. and worldwide, echoed the ACLU’s sentiment, denouncing the move by Hutchinson and calling it “blatantly unconstitutional” and “deeply disturbing.”
According to the Guttmacher Institute, Arkansas has enacted 60 abortion restrictions since 1973.
The passage comes after the Arkansas Senate and House passed the legislation by overwhelming margins. On Feb. 22, the majority-Republican Senate approved the bill in a 27-7 vote, and on March 3, the majority-Republican House did the same in a vote of 75-18.