In 1996, President Bill Clinton famously said abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare.” Back then, Americans were skeptical (and still are today) of elective abortions and the consequences they have on our society.
Arkansas is a leader in pro-life advocacy, even garnering support among many state Democrats. In just the last session both chambers overwhelmingly passed numerous legislation that reflects this sentiment. Of course, there are some who take great exception to these efforts. This is especially true if it threatens their wallet.
In June, the ACLU, Planned Parenthood and Little Rock Family Planning Services teamed up to stop the enforcement of three pro-life bills from this past legislative session.
The first is Act 493 of 2019, aka “The Cherish Act”, which outlaws abortion after 18 weeks with an exception for medical emergencies or cases of rape and incest. This bill primarily targets the barbaric practice of elective abortions by dismemberment, which is the typical procedure that far along into a pregnancy.
The Attorney General’s office accurately invoked a quote from Justice Anthony Kennedy in Stenberg v. Carhart:
“States also have an interest in forbidding medical procedures which, in the State’s reasonable determination, might cause the medical profession or society as a whole to become insensitive, even disdainful, to life, including life in the human fetus.”
This begs the question, in a moral and just society is it acceptable to electively abort a second trimester pregnancy, one that feels pain and reacts to stimuli, by extracting it piece by piece?
Another law, Act 619 of 2019, prevents discrimination of down syndrome by abortion. The law attacks one of the most extreme forms of discrimination: ending a life based on the false premise of genetic inferiority.
If an abortion provider learns that a woman’s decision to abort a pregnancy was based solely on the discovery that the unborn child may have down syndrome, they cannot proceed with the abortion. Frank Stephens, an advocate for the down syndrome community gave a powerful testimony to Congress on a similar issue back in 2017 and it is worth a listen.
This is a serious issue that is judicially unresolved and draws parallels between the outdated practices of eugenics and forced sterilization. The Attorney General’s brief poignantly stressed this by invoking the 1927 Buck v Belldecision, where all but one justice agreed:
“It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind.”
This is the exact circumstance we as a society are engaging in today, with the exception that it is sold to look like a choice.
Act 700 of 2019 is a law centered on improving the health and quality of care for mothers who may have an abortion. This bill ensures that abortion providers have on hand either a certified OB/GYN or personnel that are eligible for board certification.
Tom Tvedten, a man who provides abortion services in Arkansas, has neither. In fact, during his career he has lost multiple medical malpractice battles, has had his Arkansas medical license suspended for over-prescribing controlled substances, had charges brought against him relating to threats and assault, and he has spent time in the Faulkner County jail on DUI charges.
No reasonable person should trust Tvedten to perform any medical procedure with his demonstrated history of incompetence. He is a prime example of how Act 700 can protect women who walk into these facilities not only for an abortion but for standard health services as well.
The presiding judge in this case is Judge Kristine Baker, an Obama appointment. Unsurprisingly, she sided with the abortionists and placed a restraining order on the laws from being enforced indefinitely.
“Since the record at this stage of the proceedings indicates that women seeking abortions in Arkansas face an imminent threat to their constitutional rights, the court concludes that they will suffer irreparable harm without injunctive relief,” she said.
To Judge Baker’s point, I do not think there is anything more irreparably harmful than ending a life before it can even take its first breath. Fortunately, Arkansans have some very capable people working on their behalf to ensure these laws are given proper consideration and that abortions are as “safe, legal, and rare” as they can be.
The Attorney General released a brief in response to the preliminary injunction request brought on by the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. That 100-page document refutes every flimsy legal issue invoked in the original complaint. It also exposes several inconsistencies that the plaintiffs provided the court.
I am willing to bet the Attorney General sees Judge Baker’s injunction as an opportunity rather than a setback. These laws were expected to be challenged when they were drafted. Bringing this case to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, one of the most conservative courts in the nation could potentially have the Supreme Court eventually reexamining Roe v. Wade.
If this case is passed over by the Supreme Court, perhaps another state’s issue will pass the smell test. The Supreme Court will have a buffet of challenges to choose from; be it the heartbeat bill in Georgia, or Tennessee’s elective abortion ban, among others.
In the meantime we will have to probably wait until at least fall of 2020 – maybe later – to see this one move forward. Until then, suffer the little children.
(Each month, Arkansas Money & Politics will feature exclusive op-eds provided by members of the Republican Party of Arkansas. The views in these op-eds are the opinions of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of Arkansas Money & Politics or Vowell Media Inc.)