Arkansas Defeats Bill to Water Down Abortion Ban by Allowing Abortions on Disabled Babies

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Mar 7, 2023   |   5:44PM   |   Little Rock, Arkansas

Arkansas will keep protecting unborn babies with disabilities after state House lawmakers rejected a bill Tuesday that would have created an exception in the state abortion ban for unborn babies who may have fatal conditions.

KUAR Public Radio reports the state House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee voted against the discriminatory legislation, House Bill 1301 sponsored by state Rep. Nicole Clowney, D-Fayetteville.

Arkansas protects unborn babies by banning all elective abortions. Clowney’s bill would have amended state laws to make an exception for unborn babies who may have a “fetal abnormality incompatible with life.”

Among those testifying against the legislation were Cherisse Dean of the pro-life Family Council. Dean told lawmakers that babies in the womb deserve to be protected even if they have or may have a fatal condition.

“It does not say what it is and what it is not, and so that leaves it very unclear for a federal judge to interpret this language,” she said. “Unborn children should not be aborted because a doctor thinks that they may have a fetal abnormality.”

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The lead sponsor, Clowney said her bill would help reduce families’ trauma by allowing moms to abort their unborn babies rather than wait until they die naturally, according to the report.

“She’ll have to go to the grocery store,” Clowney said. “She’ll have to have strangers rub her belly, ask her how she’s feeling, ask her if the nursery’s done and if she’s chosen a name. She’ll have to endure full-term labor and childbirth, potentially major surgery… and then, after all of that and without any chance that the outcome could have been any different, she will leave the hospital with no baby.”

But those situations also happen with abortion. Aborted babies’ bodies still have to be removed from their mothers’ wombs, and inducing labor is a common way to do that in such cases. After an abortion, the mother leaves without her baby, too.

Killing unborn babies with disabilities or fatal conditions is discriminatory, and families faced with tragic news deserve better, too. Perinatal hospice programs, for example, provide life-affirming support to families of unborn babies and newborns with fatal conditions, often offering grief counseling, funeral planning assistance, ideas for making memories as a family, palliative care information and more to help families preparing for their child’s death.

Arkansas is one of 14 states that protects unborn babies by banning abortions now that Roe v. Wade is gone. While abortion was legal, about 3,100 unborn babies were aborted in the state every year.

As part of its ongoing efforts to protect life, the Arkansas House recently passed a bill to require companies to provide paid maternity leave to new mothers if they also offer to pay for employees’ abortions or abortion travel expenses. A second bill would allow parents to claim their unborn babies as dependents on their taxes.

Lawmakers also recently proposed a pro-life memorial at the Arkansas Capitol to commemorate the unborn babies whose lives were lost in abortion.