LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The right to an abortion in the state of Arkansas is now gone following the certification of a 2019 law triggered by the Supreme Court’s official overturning of the Roe v. Wade decision Friday morning.
The Court issued its official ruling in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which was challenging a Mississippi abortion ban after 15 weeks.
The court upheld the ban in a 6-3 ruling, and in a ruling penned by Justice Samuel Alito, five of the justices said that both the 1973 Roe ruling and the 1992 Planned Parenthood vs Casey ruling, which reaffirmed Roe, were “egregiously wrong” and needed to be overturned.
In 2019, Arkansas passed Act 180, titled the Arkansas Human Life Protection Act. The legislation effectively bans abortion in the state, with the lone exception of saving the life of the mother. The legislation included a provision that would activate the law whenever the Roe decision was overruled in whole or in part.
The only other step required was the certification of the law by the state’s Attorney General. During a news conference Friday afternoon, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge did just that.
Flanked by Gov. Asa Hutchinson and House Speaker Matthew J. Shepherd, Rutledge teared while signing the certification, saying that she saw the Supreme Court decision as a turning point for the nation.
Hutchinson added that he was grateful for the decision, noting that he has fought for decades.
Both lawmakers said the ruling does not change anything in terms of access to contraceptives or other services and added that the state’s Every Mom Matters act with help provide funding to pregnancy centers to help women facing financial challenges while pregnant.
Arkansas is joining a number of states with so-called “trigger” laws to enact such regulations in the hours following the Supreme Court’s decision.
In the state’s neighbor to the north, Missouri, state Attorney General Eric Schmitt certified the ban within minutes of the release of the decision just after 9 a.m. Central time.
In May, when a leaked draft copy of the Court’s decision made headlines across the country, Rutledge said taking the action to certify the law would “be the honor and privilege of my lifetime.”
Rutledge also said there are several Arkansas laws being held up from going into effect due to lawsuits in the Eighth Circuit, and the overturning of Roe would affect those as well.
The attorney general called the 1973 ruling “wrong” and said she hoped at the time that the justices would follow through in making the leaked draft the final decision.