The 2021 Arkansas state legislature has made an unprecedented attack on our reproductive rights. Earlier this year, Arkansas passed the highest number of abortion restrictions by any state in a single year since 1978, when Louisiana passed 20 restrictions. Then, the Texas legislature passed SB8, a bill ultimately taking away all access to abortion. Now, states across the nation have followed suit in threatening our rights with similarly extreme bills, including in Arkansas.
Like Arkansas has done many times before, politicians continue to undermine our civil and reproductive rights by vowing to introduce an SB8 abortion copycat bill during an upcoming special session. This legislation is one of the most cruel and dangerous attacks on our reproductive rights America has seen. This legislative attempt threatens to strip reproductive care away from millions of Arkansans.
Here’s what you need to know:
- In order to make it virtually impossible to get an abortion, the SB8 law bans abortion just after six weeks. Many people don’t even know they are pregnant that early.
- SB8 unleashes hordes of anti-abortion bounty hunters by establishing a system where private individuals can sue not only anyone who knowingly performed an abortion after the detection of a heartbeat, but also anyone who “knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion.” This wording is elusive enough to include even the person who provided transportation to a clinic. A minimum of $10,000 payment is required of the accused.
- Pregnant Texans are unconventionally forced to travel across state lines in order to seek legal abortions. Many people with lower income or no means of travel are left helpless, forced to remain pregnant against their will.
- The bill has been challenged by multiple suits, including from the ACLU and from the United States Justice Department. The complaints assert that SB8 violates multiple fundamental rights of patients and providers to access care free from interference by politicians. The trial court stayed the law, but the the Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit lifted the stay, allowing the bill to remain.
These continuing threats are leaving Arkansans scared and confused. Abortion is health care and no one should be making personal decisions about people's bodies except themselves.
The ACLU of Arkansas will do everything in our power to prevent this attack on our civil rights, but it’s going to take all of us. You have the power to help stop the bill in its tracks by telling your legislators to keep their bans off our bodies. Take action today.