LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (LifeSiteNews) – Arkansas Republican Attorney General Tim Griffin sent a second proposed amendment to make the Arkansas Constitution pro-abortion back to the drawing board, citing potentially misleading language.
In November, Griffin rejected a proposed Arkansas Reproductive Healthcare Amendment from being put before voters “due to ambiguities in the text” that “that prevent me from ensuring that the ballot title […] is not misleading,” specifically that its title was “tinged with partisan coloring and misleading because your proposal is solely related to abortion, not ‘reproductive healthcare’ generally,” and that the proposal “made no attempt” to describe its ramifications for the state’s current abortion laws, which prohibit abortion for any reason other than physical threats to the mother.
Under the proposed amendment, the state could “not prohibit, penalize, delay, or restrict access to abortion within 18 weeks of conception,” and would have to allow abortion up to birth for rape, incest, or “fatal fetal anomaly,” in addition to saving a woman’s life or health (with “health” undefined and creating another exploitable loophole).
Despite the 18-weeks language, the amendment also suggests the state may only prohibit or restrict abortions for the sake of a “compelling government interest achieved by the least restrictive means,” with an interest only deemed “compelling” if it relates to the abortion seeker’s health and “does not infringe on” her “decision making.”
Supporters revised and resubmitted the amendment, which replaced “conception” with “fertilization” and defined several terms, including “physical health.” But on January 4, the Arkansas Advocate reported that it too was met with disapproval.
The new draft “defines ‘physical health,’ not as the absence of disorder, illness, or injury, but as the presence of those things,” Griffin wrote. “That is the opposite of the common meaning of ‘health.’ … I suspect you intended something like this: to permit ‘abortion services’ when, among other things, they ‘are needed to protect the pregnant female from a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury.’”
The pro-abortion group Arkansans for Limited Government responded that it “will work with the drafter to make the singular correction requested in today’s opinion” and “will promptly submit a third draft.” If that third draft passes muster, then supporters will have to collect the signatures of 90,704 registered voters by July 5 for it to appear on the ballot this November.
In response, abortion allies pursue a variety of tactics to preserve abortion “access,” such as easy access to abortion pills, legal protection and financial support of interstate abortion travel, constructing new abortion facilities near borders shared by pro-life and pro-abortion states, and making liberal states sanctuaries for those who want to evade or violate the laws of more pro-life neighbors.
President Joe Biden has called on Congress to codify a “right” to abortion in federal law, which would not only restore but expand the Roe status quo by making it illegal for states to pass virtually any pro-life laws. The 2024 elections will determine whether Democrats retain the White House and keep or gain enough seats in Congress to make that happen.
Arguably the abortion lobby’s most successful tactic has been working to attempt to embed “rights” to abortion in state constitutions, which effectively insulates abortion-on-demand from future state legislation and could only be overridden by a federal abortion ban. Since the 2022 midterm elections, such efforts have succeeded in California, Michigan, Vermont, and Ohio, and are being attempted in Florida and Maryland.
The issue has prompted much conversation among pro-lifers about the need to develop new strategies to protect life at the ballot box.