FFRF condemns Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson for signing into law a near-total abortion ban.
The law, scheduled to go into effect in late summer, would permit abortions only in rare cases to save the lives of pregnant women, with no exceptions for rape or incest.
Hutchinson claims that he is motivated by his “sincere and pro-life convictions.” These so-called “pro-life convictions” are undermining the lives and constitutional rights of women throughout Arkansas — and potentially the country.
State Sen. Jason Rapert, the bill’s sponsor, has equated abortion to slavery and described the abortion ban as though it were a religious tenet. In a tweet on Feb. 22, Rapert described abortion as a “crime against humanity” while sharing the Republican Party of Arkansas’ 2020 platform.
Notably, two principles on the platform are “the power of faith in God Almighty” and “the sanctity of life.” Make no mistake: This anti-abortion law is about imposing religion on a secular nation at the expense of women’s health. And it clearly violates the rights spelled out in Roe v. Wade.
That long-established decision ruled that it is unconstitutional to impose a pre-viability abortion ban, which is around 24-26 weeks of gestation. Hutchinson has openly stated that the goal is to bring it to the Supreme Court in the hopes of overturning Roe v. Wade. Other states, including South Carolina, have recently passed anti-abortion bills that they, too, hope will lead to the repeal of Roe. The ultraconservative Supreme Court, whose balance has been tipped by the replacement of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Christian Nationalist Amy Coney Barrett, makes the future of Roe v. Wade uncertain as these religion-backed bills wend their way to the high court.
This egregious ban endangers the health of millions of women. Studies have shown that denying abortion care can lead to long-term health consequences and contributes to poor maternal health outcomes. In contrast, abortion is an extremely safe procedure and complications are rare, with no long-term consequences on a woman’s physical or mental health after an abortion.
The Arkansas abortion ban has dangerous consequences for the women of this country. As a secular nation, we must stand up for science, bodily autonomy and the human right to health care — including abortion.