Arkansas Introduces Ban on Abortion, Directly Challenging Roe v. Wade

Arkansas is the most pro-life state in the country, and is about to prove why. A new bill introduced in the state legislature late last year, S.B. 6, will be brought up for debate soon, and if the state’s track record in pro-life legislation means anything, it will likely pass the most pro-life bill on record in any state.

S.B. 6, dubbed The Unborn Child Protection Act, would make abortion illegal in Arkansas except to save the life of a pregnant woman in a medical emergency. It would not punish the woman seeking an abortion. Although Arkansas already has a similar law that would take effect when Roe v. Wade is overturned, this law goes one step further and would take effect immediately.

And it would be in direct contradiction to the U.S. Supreme Court’s line of cases that gave us abortion-on-demand up to the time of birth: Roe v. Wade, Doe v. Bolton, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and others. Because of that, the lower federal courts are bound by precedent to declare S.B. 6 unconstitutional.

But that’s the point.

Jerry Cox, the president of Family Council, a Focus on the Family-affiliated organization in Arkansas, says it’s time for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe, and this law, if passed, could be the vehicle by which the high court could do just that.

“Many people have been saying for almost fifty years that abortion should be illegal,” Cox said in an online statement. “The time has come for us to make it so. S.B. 6 will give the U.S. Supreme Court the opportunity to overturn Roe v. Wade. Family Council fully supports the passage of this good law. This is an opportunity for Arkansas to be a real leader in the effort to end abortion in America.”

So what makes this proposed law a good opportunity for the court to once and for all declare that Roe was bad law, sending the issue back to the states where it belonged in the first place?

In a policy brief furnished to The Daily Citizen, Family Council says the answer is simple: “The U.S. Supreme Court cannot overturn Roe v. Wade unless someone passes a law that challenges Roe and gives the Court an opportunity to overturn it.”

Here’s a quick synopsis of the bill:

  • B. 6 contains numerous legislative findings outlining why the U.S. Supreme Court should overturn its Roe v. WadeDoe v. Bolton, and Planned Parenthood v. Caseyabortion decisions.
  • The bill prohibits abortion except in cases of medical emergency when the woman’s life is at risk.
  • Performing or attempting to perform an abortion would be an unclassified felony.
  • The penalty would be a fine up to $100,000 and/or imprisonment up to 10 years.
  • It would not allow a woman to be prosecuted for the death of her unborn child.
  • It contains exceptions for contraceptives.
  • It creates an affirmative defense for a physician who accidentally or unintentionally causes injury or death to an unborn child.
  • It does not explicitly affect or repeal any other state law concerning abortion.

The Arkansas state constitution also professes a strong pro-life policy. Amendment 68 says: “No public funds will be used to pay for any abortion, except to save the mother’s life.”

An objection commonly heard about pro-life legislation is that it interferes with “reproductive freedom.” Cox says that’s not the issue.

“Abortion is not reproductive freedom. An unborn baby is a distinct human being with his or her own unique DNA. Abortion ends that person’s life. Prohibiting abortion has nothing to do with reproductive freedom. It’s about respecting the lives of living, unborn babies.”

We’ll keep you updated as S.B. 6 makes its way through the Arkansas state legislature.

Photo from Shutterstock

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