Arkansas wants to protect unborn babies from abortion. Its people elected a strong majority of pro-life lawmakers to the state legislature to achieve that goal.
But now powerful pro-abortion groups are trying to stop them.
WREG News 3 reports the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit Wednesday challenging a new Arkansas law that protects unborn babies by banning all abortions.
The Arkansas Unborn Child Protection Act (Senate Bill 6), which passed the state legislature by a strong majority in March, bans all abortions in the state. It allows exceptions if the mother’s life or health are at risk. Abortionists who violate the ban would face up to 10 years in prison, but women would not be punished for violating the law.
The law is scheduled to go into effect July 28, but a judge likely will block it before then.
“We are not going to stand by while Arkansas attempts to deny people their constitutional right to abortion …” said Meagan Burrows, staff attorney at the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, Reuters reports.
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In the lawsuit, the pro-abortion groups slammed the pro-life law as a “direct affront to almost half a century of Supreme Court precedent,” according to The Hill.
Pro-life advocates hope the law will challenge that precedent and ultimately prompt the U.S. Supreme Court to allow states to protect unborn babies again.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson told CNN in March that overturning Roe v. Wade is one of the goals of the law.
“[The law] is not constitutional under Supreme Court cases right now,” Hutchinson said on CNN’s State of the Union. “… And so I signed it because it is a direct challenge to Roe vs. Wade – that was the intent of it. I think there’s a very narrow chance that the Supreme Court will accept that case but we’ll see.”
Since 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court has forced states to legalize abortion on demand under Roe v. Wade. States that want to protect unborn babies may only do so once they reach the point of viability, currently about 22 weeks. Roe made the United States one of only seven countries in the world that allows elective abortions after 20 weeks.
Arkansas and more than a dozen other states are challenging that precedent through total abortion bans, laws that prohibit abortions after an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable (about six weeks), laws banning discriminatory abortions on unborn babies with disabilities, and laws banning abortions after the first trimester.
Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a Mississippi case that many believe directly challenges Roe v. Wade and could allow states to protect unborn babies once again. At issue in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is the question of “whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortion are unconstitutional.”
Polls indicate that most Americans want stronger protections for unborn babies. Gallup has been asking about the legality of abortions by trimester for decades. Its polls have found steady, strong opposition to abortions in the second and third trimesters. Additionally, a 2019 Hill-HarrisX poll found that 55 percent of voters said they do not think laws banning abortions after six weeks – when an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable – are too restrictive.