Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson admitted on Sunday that the purpose of signing one of the most restrictive abortion bills in the U.S. was to challenge Roe v. Wade.
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson is thinking ahead. Earlier this month, he signed into law the Arkansas Unborn Child Protection Act or S.B. 6, which prohibits all abortions in the state except for when the procedure will be done to save the life of the mother. The new legislation does not allow for exceptions in cases of rape or incest, which make up for less than 1.5% of abortions nationally.
On Sunday's "State of the Union" on CNN, the Arkansas governor shed more light on his decision to pass the near-total abortion ban into law. He explained, "That was the whole design of [S.B. 6]. It is not constitutional under Supreme Court cases right now."
"I signed it because it is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade," Gov. Hutchinson declared, despite admitting that he believes there's only a "narrow chance" that the Supreme Court would accept the case against Roe v. Wade. He added that when he signed S.B. 6 into law earlier this month, he wanted the near-total abortion ban to have a rape and incest clause and decided to sign it due to his "sincere and long-held pro-life convictions."
The Arkansas Unborn Child Protection Act was first filed in November 2020 by Republican Senator Jason Rapert. Currently, the legislation prohibits abortion providers from offering abortions "except to save the life of a pregnant woman in a medical emergency." The law, which will take effect 90 days after it was signed on March 10, will sentence violators up to 10 years in prison or will require a fine of up to $100,000.
According to The Blaze, the Supreme Court has been opposed to some abortion-related cases. Just last year, the Court ruled in the case June Medical Services, LLC v. Russo that it was unconstitutional for the Louisiana law to require abortion clinic doctors to have "hospital admitting privileges."
Many pro-life advocates are supporting the near-total abortion ban despite it not having a clause that exempts cases of rape and incest. Take Valerie Long, the leader of the faith-based, pregnancy resource center, Options on Main and Options in Paragould. She told KAIT8 earlier in March that "Anytime we can encourage life, that is always the right choice."
"Women who have chosen life who were raped, women who were conceived in rape will tell you don't use us to help advocate for abortion. A second act of violence would not have been the right thing," Long argued.
The Arkansas Unborn Child Protection Act does not come without its detractors. Both Planned Parenthood and the ACLU of Arkansas issued statements as soon as the Arkansas governor signed it into law. Planned Parenthood's regional manager of public policy Gloria Pedro called S.B. 6 a "flawed and dangerous legislation" and "absurd attempt to demand the Supreme Court reconsider Roe v. Wade."
Meanwhile, ACLU Arkansas called S.B. 6 a "harmful crusade to intrude on people's personal autonomy" especially during a time of a global pandemic. The organization called it "unconstitutional" and vowed to meet legislators in court, as per ABC7.