Listen up, Arkansas.
Abortion is legal in the United States.
Your ban on ending a pregnancy after 12 weeks — that’s unconstitutional.
Even your governor, Mike Beebe, has said so publicly: “In short, because it would impose a ban on a woman’s right to choose an elective, nontherapeutic abortion well before viability, Senate Bill 134 blatantly contradicts the United States Constitution, as interpreted by the Supreme Court.”
But Arkansas, that is not even the main reason that you are a stunning example in the national trend to chip away at our constitutional right to privately plan the families that work best for us.
For politicians like State Representative Ann Clemmer and State Senator Jason Rapert, openly legislating from the pulpit is so common as to be acceptable behavior. In a video interview this week Rep. Clemmer stated, “I believe at some point we’re going to have to stand up for life in this state.” Sen. Rapert, who sponsored the legislation, Tweeted in early February: “Jeremiah 1:5 ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.’” The right to choose does not factor into these belief systems, belief systems that are having a huge impact.
Sure, challenging federal law has historically gained important victories in the advancement of civil rights in this country. But in this case, ideologically fueled actions play fast and loose with the lives of real women and real families. Restricting abortion makes it especially hard for low-income folks and communities of color to access family planning services that may already be geographically and socio-economically out of reach. For many women, a ban on abortion after 12 weeks effectively quashes access to the right to choose.
On the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade this is not how I wanted to celebrate. But if continuing to fight for the safety and health of women and families in this country is what’s needed, then that is the party I’m ready to throw and the choice I will make to honor the safety and well-being of women everywhere.
Arkansas, you are asking for a fight. And your governor is right — this one is gonna cost you, because pro-women, pro-family, pro-voice folks are never going away.