LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – On Tuesday, March 9, Governor Asa Hutchinson signed Senate Bill 6 (SB6) into law. The bill, also known as the “Arkansas Unborn Child Protection Act,” has as its primary goal to “abolish abortion in Arkansas, protect the lives of unborn children and to protect all human life.” If allowed to stand by the courts, SB6 would ban all abortions in the state with the exception of cases where the mother’s life is in danger.
In response to questions over the signing of SB6, Governor Hutchinson issued the following statement, “SB6 is a pro-life bill that prohibits abortion in all cases except to save the life of the mother in a medical emergency. It does not include exceptions for rape and incest. I will sign SB6 because of overwhelming legislative support and my sincere and long-held pro-life convictions. SB6 is in contradiction of binding precedents of the U.S. Supreme Court, but it is the intent of the legislation to set the stage for the Supreme Court to overturn current case law. I would have preferred the legislation to include the exceptions for rape and incest, which has been my consistent view, and such exceptions would increase the chances for a review by the U.S. Supreme Court.”
The bill was sponsored by Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway) who helped lead the passage of SB6 through the Arkansas Senate on Monday February 22 by a vote of 27 to 7. Rep. Mary Bentley (R-Perryville) is listed as the other primary sponsor and helped lead the passage of the bill through the House of Representatives on Wednesday, March 3 by a vote of 76-19.
The law is not set to take effect until 90 days after the legislature adjourns this year’s session. This means the newly signed law cannot be enforced until this summer at the earliest. Abortion rights supporters plan to mount a fierce legal challenge in court to stop the law before it can take effect.
Rapert and the other sponsors of SB6 know that there is a long fight ahead. As stated in the actual bill, they ultimately hope to force the United States Supreme Court to re-examine past cases Roe v. Wade, Doe v. Bolton, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey; in hopes of overturning the initial decisions which the bill’s sponsors say currently “perpetuate a grave injustice and a crime against humanity.”
Dr. J.D. “Sonny” Tucker, Executive Director for the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, issued the following statement when asked to comment on the passing of SB6 in Arkansas. “The churches of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention place an exceedingly high value on the worth and dignity of human life regardless of gender, race, age, ethnicity or socioeconomic factors. Arkansas Baptists believe all children should be loved and protected – both born and unborn.
Through the Arkansas Baptist Children’s Home, Crisis Pregnancy Centers, foster care, and local church ministries, Arkansas Baptists continually advocate for the unborn and those born into challenging situations. Personally, I am thankful for legislation that aims to protect and value the life of the unborn. I’m also grateful to the members of the Arkansas House of Representatives, the Arkansas Senate, and Governor Asa Hutchinson who signed this legislation into law.”