Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson faced backlash on Tuesday after signing a near-total ban on abortions in the state.
According the Associated Press, Senate Bill 6 was approved by the Arkansas Senate last month and the Arkansas House last week with overwhelming support. Gov. Hutchinson announced his intention to sign the bill into law, citing his “sincere and long-held pro-life convictions”; however, the Republican lawmaker expressed some mild reservations about the bill, saying he would’ve preferred for it to include exceptions for rape and incest. SB6 outlaws the procedure in all cases, except when it is necessary to save the mother’s life.
Hutchinson acknowledged that the bill defied Supreme Court precedent, but was confident it would face legal challenges and ultimately force the United States Supreme Court to revisit Roe v. Wade—the 1973 case that legalized abortion across the country.
“I will sign SB6 because of overwhelming legislative support and my sincere and long-held pro-life convictions,” the governor said in a statement. “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 overturning 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.”
SB6, introduced by Sen. Jason Rapert and Sen. Mary Bently, has a no emergency clause, which means it can’t go into effect until 90 days after the Arkansas Legislature adjourns. Reproductive rights advocates say they plan to use that time to challenge the ban in court.
“Once again, Arkansas politicians have made it their business to dictate people’s personal medical decisions, violate their personal autonomy, and block them from care,” Holly Dickson, ACLU of Arkansas executive director, said in a statement to the Arkansas Times. “This extreme abortion ban is cruel and unconstitutional and it will have accomplished nothing but cause stress for patients, while ignoring the pressing challenges Arkansans face. Abortion is legal in all 50 states, including Arkansas, and we’ll fight as long as it takes to keep it that way. Governor Hutchinson: we’ll see you in court.”