December 1, 2023

Activists Push Abortion Rights Amendment for Arkansas Constitution

This November 27, an Arkansas activist group named "For AR People" announced plans to push for a constitutional amendment creating a right to abortion. It is pushing the amendment through a new sub-group called "Arkansans for Limited Government."

The proposal, titled the "Arkansas Reproductive Healthcare Amendment," would prevent the state from protecting the unborn before 18 weeks gestation, if the child was conceived in rape, if the child was conceived in incest, if the child is diagnosed with a fatal fetal anomaly, or if the abortion is deemed necessary to protect a mother's life or health.

It should be noted that similar language used in other legislation is interpreted to create a right to abortion at all gestational ages for any reason. This is because abortionists can use their own subjective judgment to deem an abortion necessary to protect a mother's health, including her mental health.

Further, the proposal would prevent Arkansas from protecting the unborn if the law does not "protect the health of the individual seeking access, does not infringe on the individual's decision making, and is consistent with widely accepted clinical standards of practice and evidence-based medicine."

Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin rejected the proposal's ballot title and language on grounds that it was ambiguous. Griffin's opinion took issue with the proposal's use of the words "access" and "health," which he said lacked clarity. Additionally, the ballot language failed to describe its impact on existing laws, including Arkansas' Constitutional Amendment 68.

Amendment 68 directly contradicts the goals of pro-abortion activists by stating “The policy of Arkansas is to protect the life of every unborn child from conception until birth, to the extent permitted by the Federal Constitution.”

Pro-life activists will need to revise the proposal before resubmitting it for approval. After it is accepted by the attorney general's office, activists will have to gather roughly 100,000 signatures by July 2024 to ensure it appears on the 2024 ballot.