HomeUSProposed Arkansas abortion ballot measure is ‘extreme,’ ‘unsafe,’ critics warn

Proposed Arkansas abortion ballot measure is ‘extreme,’ ‘unsafe,’ critics warn

Pro-lifers were present at the Arkansas capitol on July 5, 2024, when a pro-abortion group submitted its petitions for a ballot measure that proposes an amendment that would enshrine abortion as a right in the state constitution for the first half of a pregnancy. / Credit: Photo courtesy of Family Council in Arkansas

CNA Staff, Jul 8, 2024 / 14:50 pm (CNA).

Pro-life advocates are calling a proposed Arkansas abortion measure “extreme,” saying it would nullify parental consent laws and other safeguards if passed, giving abortionists “free rein” into the second trimester of pregnancy.

The ballot measure proposes an amendment that would enshrine abortion as a right in the state constitution for the first half of a pregnancy. A pro-abortion group submitted the required number of signatures on Friday, making it likely that Arkansians will be voting on the measure this November.

Arkansans for Limited Government, the group that organized the ballot measure, announced in a July 5 Facebook post that it obtained more than 100,000 signatures from registered voters in 75 different counties and submitted the measure to the state for verification. 

The Arkansas Legislature requires about 90,700 signatures from 50 counties by the July 5 deadline in order to place a measure on the ballot. 

The proposed “Arkansas Abortion Amendment” would allow abortions up to 18 weeks — about four-and-a-half months — after fertilization and in a variety of other cases after that mark, including when the unborn child is diagnosed with a “fatal fetal anomaly” or “to protect a pregnant female from a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury.” 

The amendment also would allow abortion in cases of rape or incest. 

Arkansas currently allows abortion only if a mother’s life is at risk. The state health department recently reported that there were no abortions in Arkansas in 2023. The pro-life law firm Americans United for Life, based in Washington, D.C., has listed Arkansas as “the most pro-life state in America” for the past four years. 

The proposed abortion amendment would declare “null and void” any laws that are in conflict with it, including parental consent and informed consent requirements.  

Critics of the amendment describe it as “extreme” and “unsafe” because it forbids the government from restricting abortion in any way well into the second trimester.

The Arkansas-based pro-life group Family Council called the amendment “more extreme than Roe v. Wade” in a Friday press release, noting that it “would prevent the State of Arkansas from restricting abortion during the first five months of pregnancy” if passed.

A report by Americans United for Life criticized the amendment for subjecting unborn children to “painful abortion procedures,” eliminating safeguards for women and minors, and “giv[ing] abortionists free rein to operate without any health and safety restrictions.”

The head of Arkansas Right to Life, a pro-life organization fighting the ballot measure, said that Arkansas’ successful pro-life movement makes it a pro-abortion “target.” 

“With the overturn of Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022, Arkansas Right to Life knew that this fight would come to the doorstep of each of the 50 states, and Arkansas would be no exception,” Arkansas Right to Life executive director Rose Mimms said in a July 5 statement. 

“We knew we would be a target as we are the No. 1 pro-life state in the nation,” she said.

“If the measure ultimately makes it on the November ballot, a ‘no’ vote will protect pregnant women and girls from unsafe, unlicensed abortion procedures that will take the life of their unborn son or daughter and possibly injure or kill them in the process,” Mimms added.

The group Arkansans for Limited Government hired more than 150 petition canvassers, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on the campaign, according to Family Council.

Measures to make abortion a constitutionally-protected right are on the ballot in Colorado, Maryland, Florida, South Dakota, and Nevada, while groups have submitted signatures and are awaiting approval for similar measures in Arizona, Arkansas, Missouri, Montana, and Nebraska. 

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