by Mary Jayne Caum
March 4, 2021
“That government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” - President Abraham Lincoln
Yesterday, the Arkansas House of Representatives followed the will of the Arkansas citizenry and voted to protect an inherent right of all people: the right to life.
Recognizing that life begins at conception, AR SB 6, the Arkansas Unborn Child Protection Act, sponsored by Senator Jason Rapert and Representative Mary Bentley, specifically calls on the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the erroneous decisions of Roe, Doe, and Casey. Anticipating critics’ claim that stare decisis must stand and past Supreme Court decisions are untouchable, SB 6 provides a brief history to answer this claim by detailing in the legislative findings the Supreme Court’s egregious mistakes of the past: Dred Scott and Plessy v. Ferguson. SB 6 explains how the Supreme Court denied the personhood of African Americans throughout the United States in the Dred Scott decision and later reaffirmed this racist and inhumane position when it denied African Americans equal protection in Plessy’s “separate but equal” doctrine. By highlighting these two decisions of the Court, not only does SB 6 explain how our top court has erred, but it places Roe, Doe, and Casey alongside Dred Scott and Plessy as atrocious decisions. As SB 6 explains, the American people have corrected the judicial sins of Scott and Plessy, and the Supreme Court has overturned these unjust precedents.
The erroneous stare decisis of Scott and Plessy were overturned and invalidated by the Civil War Amendments and Brown v. Board of Education. SB 6 calls on the Supreme Court to again listen to the American people and overturn the Roe, Doe, and Casey decisions. By criminalizing abortion at all stages except when the life of the pregnant mother is at risk, the Arkansas legislature has upheld the ideals of our Declaration of Independence and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address by legally recognizing the government’s responsibility to honor and protect all people’s right to life, including the unborn. While explicitly protecting the pregnant women whom the abortion was performed on from prosecution, SB 6 designates the crime of abortion as an “unclassified felony.” The penalty for committing this felony of abortion is either a fine of $100,000 or up to 10 years imprisonment, or both. By criminalizing this crime against humanity, SB 6 punishes the perpetrator while protecting both the mother and child from legal or physical harm.
SB 6 is a bold bill that, if signed by Governor Asa Hutchinson, would demonstrate the will of a number of American people that the government should protect innocent lives, not sanction their destruction. While calling on the Supreme Court to overturn the bad precedent of Roe, Doe, and Casey, SB 6 outlines how the Court has made horrific mistakes in the past—such as Scott and Plessy—that were later corrected by the American people through both the legislature and the judiciary. In Roe, Doe, and Casey, the Court should do the same. Although our government has ignored the will of the American people and the cries of her massacred unborn children for almost 50 years now, SB 6 marks a return to government of, by, and for the people. By calling on the Supreme Court to overturn mistaken and dangerous precedent, SB 6 is upholding the ideals of government of and by the people. By protecting our most vulnerable, SB 6 signals the return of government for the people.
We pray SB 6 and many more like it are enacted and the Supreme Court overturns its erroneous rulings so government for the people—including innocent unborn people—shall not perish from the earth.
Arkansans, please tell Governor Asa Hutchinson to sign SB 6 and enact this historic pro-life bill!
Mary Jayne Caum is a Government Affairs Research Assistant at Family Research Council.