Is AR Gov. right to sign bill banning abortion unless mother's life at risk?


Fact Box

  • William Asa Hutchinson is the 46th Governor of Arkansas; he is known for making headway on computer science education, tax cuts, and veteran retirement. He was the first Undersecretary of Homeland Security, the former DEA Administrator, and former Congressman for AR 3rd District. 
  • On Tuesday, March 9, Gov. Hutchinson signed a bill banning abortions with one exception: to save the life of the mother. He mentioned his preference for “legislation to include exceptions for rape and incest.” 
  • Republicans hope the bill will force the US Supreme Court to revisit the Roe v. Wade decision that cemented legalized abortion in 1973. However, many offer rebuttals saying the bill is “cruel and unconstitutional.” 
  • World Population Review records that currently 43 states prohibit abortion after a specific point in a woman’s pregnancy; 21 states prohibit partial-birth abortion; 12 states restrict private insurance plans from covering abortions.

Kevin (No)

There are several fights over abortion bans playing out in the US, and people on both sides of the issue are hoping to use these cases to bolster their positions. Legal precedent is on the side of reproductive rights; however, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said recently of the case underway in his state, 'SB6 is in contradiction of binding precedents of the US Supreme Court, but it is the intent of the legislation to set the stage for the Supreme Court overturning current case law.' It seems that Republican lawmakers have been emboldened by Judge Amy Coney Barrett's appointment to the Supreme Court and are seeking to take advantage of the situation--even if it means drafting a 'near-total abortion ban.'

As the ACLU said in a statement, bans like this don't really end abortions--they only end safe abortions in that state. When similar legislation was under consideration in her state, State senator Linda Coleman-Madison pointed out that 'For those with the means, it doesn't matter that Alabama bans it. They're going to find another state, find another country.' Human Rights Watch also explains that these bans only end up making matters worse, leading to increased levels of abuse and health problems, mostly among marginalized communities. Regarding abuse, the bill's lack of exceptions even for cases of rape or incest is especially troubling. 

These are some of the reasons that the United Nations includes reproductive health in the classification of healthcare as a human right--and has done so for a while. A report from the UN Population Fund specifically says that 'unnecessary restrictions on abortion should be removed and governments should provide access to safe abortion services.'

Stephanie (Yes)

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson claimed a victory for the pro-life movement by signing a bill that would ban all abortion practices in the state unless the mother's life is at risk. Abortion itself is undeniably controversial, so it is no surprise that it continues to be an issue among those with varying opinions.

While it may seem extreme to some, the bill at least considers circumstances that could be life-threatening for an expectant mother. Hutchinson even stated that he 'would have preferred the legislation to include the exceptions for rape and incest,' demonstrating a rather moderate conservative view.

Despite any anticipated opposition to the recent bill and the sanctity of life itself, Hutchinson was in full right to sign it. Those who disagree can move from the state to one that is more 'pro-choice,' given that Arkansas has the constitutional right to determine what is best for its citizens, applying to the living and the unborn.

The recently passed bill may draw criticism from those citing protections under Roe v. Wade; however, this is not unintentional. Passing anti-abortion laws on the state level may cause the U.S. Supreme Court to 're-examine (or even overturn) Roe v. Wade,' especially if other states follow. Roe has been considered controversial for decades due to abortion 'rights' being derived from the Constitution when they are not explicitly stated by any means.

Governor Hutchinson's recent decision will surely cause a stir in the pro-choice community and will hopefully open a conversation about the 1973 Supreme Court ruling. In the meantime, however, it is guaranteed to save unborn lives, at least in the state of Arkansas.

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