Abortion restrictions enacted by the Arkansas legislature in 2017, including banning dismemberment and sex-selection abortions, are allowed to go into effect Aug. 28, after a ruling from the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
“This legislation was enacted to protect people and preserve human dignity,” said Catherine Phillips, director of the Diocese of Little Rock Respect Life Office.
On Aug. 7, the appeals court reversed an injunction blocking four different restrictions because of lawsuits, according to catholicnewsagency.com. The court cited an opinion in the U.S. Supreme Court ruling of June Medical Services v. Russo June 29. According to an Aug. 11 CBS news article, though the ruling struck down abortion restrictions in Louisiana, Chief Justice John Roberts, who did side with his fellow justices in striking down those restrictions, wrote in a separate opinion that states should have “wide discretion to pass legislation in areas where there is medical and scientific uncertainty.”
Therefore, barring other legal challenges, Arkansas laws taking effect are:
In 2019, there were 355 D&E abortions out of 2,963 total, according to the Arkansas Department of Health statistics.
“You’re taking about late-term abortions here. Basically the legislature enacted this law because people are outright horrified that a live baby is torn limb from limb to be aborted,” Phillips said.
Beyond the restrictions, Phillips said it’s also important to examine the reasons a woman chooses abortion -- including homelessness, unemployment and domestic violence -- and changing the structures that hold families back. Programs like the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Walking with Moms in Need, the national parish-based pregnancy assistance program The Gabriel Project and pregnancy resource center programs are a start, she said.
“If God has blessed us with gifts and resources, let’s share them to change the sad circumstances that so many people face,” Phillips said. “It doesn’t matter what their legal status is … or the color of their skin, their education level, what their faith background tells them, if they’re in need, they’re in need ... And Christ calls us to help our brothers and sisters in need.”
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