A U.S. Supreme Court ruling against a Texas abortion law has advocacy organizations in Arkansas evaluating their approach to reproductive rights in the Natural State.
According to Justice Stephen Breyer’s majority opinion the Texas law, which dramatically reduced the number of doctors and clinics that could provide abortions, was medically unnecessary and placed an undue burden on women seeking the procedure. Some Republican Arkansas lawmakers attempted and failed to pass similar legislation in 2015.
Jerry Cox, president of the conservative Christian organization Family Council, doubts whether the ruling will have a significant impact in Arkansas because current state laws differ from the one ruled unconstitutional in Texas.
“I would consider this a mild setback for the pro-life movement,” said Cox. “I would in no way call this a major defeat for the pro-life movement because the pro-life movement is so much bigger than just a law here or there.”
On the other hand, Rita Sklar, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, described the ruling as “the most influential decision on women’s access to abortion in 20 years. [The Supreme Court] underscored and reinforced women’s constitutional right to an abortion.”
Cox conceded that this would likely have an impact on future proposed legislation. He said reintroducing an Arkansas bill similar to the one that failed in 2015 was being considered for 2017, but “obviously this ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the Texas law does give us pause here in Arkansas.”
Sklar said the decision will not only impact future laws but could impact existing Arkansas abortion restrictions.
“Today we celebrate,” Sklar said, “tomorrow we roll up our sleeves. We look at all the laws we have on the books in Arkansas that might be affected by this ruling and see which of those can be challenged.”