Activists Want To Make Abortion A Major Issue In Pryor/Cotton Senate Race

Aug 29, 2014

Josh Duggar, executive director of Family Research Council Action, speaks at Friday's rally in the Arkansas state Capitol rotunda.
Credit Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

A coalition of abortion opponents gathered at the Capitol Friday to call on Democratic Senator Mark Pryor to support a congressional effort to ban the procedure at 20 weeks. Local organizers and campaign workers with Pryor’s senate opponent, Republican Tom Cotton, were joined by a national organization in Arkansas to influence the upcoming election.

Mallory Quigley, a spokeswoman with Women Speak Out PAC, said abortion is an issue that needs to be at the forefront.

“We have a really important opportunity to replace Mark Pryor with a pro-life Senator,” said Quigley.

She said the PAC is active in three states (AR, LA, NC) for the midterm election, hoping to boost voter turnout by distributing door-hangers claiming Pryor is using tax dollars to “support the abortion industry.”

“We’ve set up three field offices across the state. We’ve got more than 100 canvassers knocking on doors and reaching out to pro-life voters who vote in presidential elections and don’t usually come out to off-year elections,” said Quigley.

In a statement Pryor’s Press Secretary Mary Robbins said Pryor has constitutional concerns regarding the proposed federal 20 week ban.

"Mark is personally opposed to abortion, but Tom Cotton would have the government intervene between a woman, her pastor and her doctor in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother. Mark has said he could support a 20 week bill if it were crafted in a way that the courts would uphold as constitutional."

Pryor’s campaign has not yet responded to a question asking what changes need to be made for Pryor to consider a 20 week ban constitutional.

Federal courts have recently struck down several new state laws banning most abortions at 20 weeks. Arkansas’s legislature passed a 20 week ban in 2013.

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland spokeswoman Angie Remington contended access to abortion and a woman’s control of her health has already been determined a right.

“Abortion was ruled constitutional and courts have done a good job so far of upholding that but it’s a constant fight. There’s been a lot of recent court decision and legislation that has been attacking women’s healthcare and restricting their access to abortion.” Remington continued, “We really believe that a woman, her family, and her doctor should make these decisions and not politicians.”

Arkansas Family Council President Jerry Cox, at the forefront of a myriad of causes important to social conservatives, said he’s not deterred by court decisions ruling 20 week bans unconstitutional.

“We as pro-life individuals need to continue to offer legislation that challenges the status quo. Right now abortion is the status quo. The only way you change that is you offer legislation and you let the courts rule on it and you keep moving those lines in a pro-life direction. That’s what the pro-abortion people did in 1973,” said Cox.

Nearly 40 years of court precedence has generally defined 24 weeks as the point of viability for a fetus to live outside the womb.

Cox said Family Council plans to release a voter guide next week scoring candidates on issues like abortion. Cox said 100 percent of Republicans and Green Party candidates responded while only 37 percent of Democrats did. Cox did not have any figures on Libertarians available.