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Gov. Hutchinson signs SB 6; outlaws nearly all abortions

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Today, Gov. Asa Hutchison signed Senate Bill 6 into law, imposing a near-total ban on abortion at any stage of pregnancy. If the law is not stopped by the courts, it will go into effect Aug. 3, 2021. Nationwide, this is the second abortion ban to be passed and signed this year. 

Under SB 6, physicians who provide abortion for any reason except life endangerment — including in cases of rape or incest — would face criminal penalties. If the law takes effect, it will prevent Arkansans from accessing a safe procedure that one in four American women in their lifetime will need.

Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, president, Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

“This is politics at its very worst. At a time when people need economic relief and basic safety precautions, dismantling abortion access is cruel, dangerous, and blatantly unjust. The same politicians who are fixated on controlling our reproductive health care have spent the past year pushing back on scientific guidelines that will keep people safe and alive during a pandemic. Their hypocrisy is clear as day. Our patients deserve better. Planned Parenthood will work alongside its partners to fight this attack on our rights and freedoms.”

Statement from Brandon Hill, Ph.D., president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes:

"Arkansas politicians have a crisis on their hands, and it’s not limiting patients’ access to constitutionally protected care. Instead of working to improve the state’s underfunded public health system during a global pandemic, politicians are passing bills designed to gain publicity rather than address Arkansans’ needs. Decisions about pregnancy are deeply personal and should be made by individuals in consultation with their trusted medical providers and their families, not politicians. Abortion is a critical component of comprehensive reproductive health care, and everyone deserves to have access to the health care they need, without interference from politicians. This blatant attempt to eliminate a patient's right to access safe, legal abortion in Arkansas is a dangerous distraction from focusing on solutions to vaccinate more Arkansans and contain COVID-19."

Statement from Gloria Pedro, regional manager of public policy and organizing for Arkansas and Oklahoma, Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes:

SB 6 is one of more than 100 abortion bans being proposed by state legislatures across the country. We are seeing a surge in state abortion bans, anti-abortion constitutional amendments, and medically unnecessary abortion restrictions — all since Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed to the Supreme Court. Altogether, more than 250 anti-abortion bills are pending in states. 

This is all part of a nationwide effort to further push abortion access out of reach. South Carolina just passed a similarly extreme and unconstitutional anti-abortion law, banning abortion at six weeks. Six-week bans on abortion have been struck down each time they have been challenged. Courts in states like Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Dakota, Iowa, Ohio, Tennessee, and South Carolina have blocked those states’ bans, upholding decades of court precedent that prohibits states from restricting access to abortion before viability.

Restrictions on abortion deeply affect women of color, immigrants, people who live in rural areas, and people with low incomes. These laws hurt the people and families who are already among the most vulnerable Arkansas communities.

In addition, the language in this ban is inherently racist, inappropriately linking essential and time-sensitive abortion care to the horrors of legalized slavery. This comparison has been refuted, debunked, and argued against by Black women. 

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Planned Parenthood Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Action Fund engages in educational, advocacy and electoral activity, including grassroots organizing, legislative advocacy, and voter education.

Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes is an independent, nonpartisan 501(c)4 nonprofit organization that advocates for sexual and reproductive health and rights in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. We lobby state lawmakers, mobilize more than 120,000 grassroots supporters, and engage in issue education in order to protect and expand access to health care and comprehensive sex education in the communities we serve, and to promote Planned Parenthood’s mission.

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