Arkansas Women's Rights

Arkansas Women and the Right to Vote: The Little Rock Campaigns 1869-1920.
Butler Center for Arkansas Studies. 2015.

February marked the 100th anniversary of Arkansas recognizing women’s right to vote – at least white women, in primary elections – but a historic milestone nonetheless.

KUAR’s Jacob Kauffman spoke with Bernadette Cahill, author of Arkansas Women and the Right to Vote: The Little Rock Campaigns 1868-1920 published by UA Press and the Butler Center for Arkansas studies.

Listen in to hear how Arkansas women built a movement; why primary elections were targeted; and the state’s place in the national women’s suffrage movement.

Butler Center for Arkansas Studies / Central Arkansas Library System

Gov. Asa Hutchinson is scheduled to proclaim February 7 as “Women’s Primary Suffrage Centennial Day” during an event Tuesday at the state Capitol.

One hundred years ago Arkansas lawmakers introduced legislation allowing women to vote in primary elections. Kathleen Pate, president of the non-profit Arkansas Women’s History Institute, says Arkansas was the first non-suffrage state to enact such a law, which, while progressive for its time, was still limited.

State Rep. Andy Mayberry (R-Hensley) watching from the Senate public gallery as his bill is debated.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

A bill to restrict a common form of second trimester abortions in Arkansas is now law. Governor Asa Hutchinson signed the measure banning a procedure known as dilation and evacuation (D&E). According to the state Department of Health, it was the only procedure used for 18% of abortions performed in the 12th week of pregnancy or later in 2015. 

Organizers and state police estimates on the number of demonstrators at the state Capitol for the Women's March on Saturday ranged from 3,000 to 7,000. Take a look at some pictures of the march in the gallery above. The rally in Little Rock was one of a string of events held worldwide protesting the presidency of Donald Trump.

March for Life pro-life anti-abortion abortion
Talk Business & Politics

Forty-four years to the day after the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, Gov. Asa Hutchinson told a couple of thousand marchers at the annual March for Life that he will sign a bill outlawing the most common form of second trimester abortion.

David Monteith / KUAR

Hoping to show solidarity with the Women’s March in the nation’s capitol, a large crowd gathered in Little Rock Saturday.

Thousands of people, many dressed in purple, chanted “Women united will never be divided,” and “This is what democracy looks like,” while marching down Capitol Avenue before a rally was held on the steps of the Arkansas Capitol.

Nearly 4,400 people have RSVP’d for a Women’s March to the Arkansas State Capitol, according to an organizer. The event is scheduled for Saturday morning. It is one of nearly 600 similar demonstrations set to occur across the country, mirroring a Washington, D.C. march to protest of the new presidential administration of Donald J. Trump.

Arkansas state capitol building.
Chris Hickey / KUAR News

An Arkansas legislative committee has voted to outlaw an abortion procedure that opponents call "savage" and "barbaric" while others deem it the safest way to end a pregnancy in the second trimester.

The proposal by a legislator who is president of Arkansas Right to Life would ban dilation and evacuation, also known as a D&E abortion. The measure passed the Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee on a voice vote Thursday.

Arkansas would be the third state to ban the procedure, after Mississippi and West Virginia. Similar prohibitions are on hold amid court challenges in other states.

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.

State Rep. Greg Leding (D-Fayetteville) speaking with Arkansas Department of Higher Education Dr. Brett Powell.
Jacob Kauffman/KUAR News

Arkansas lawmakers are trying to get a grasp on the incomplete picture of sexual assaults on college campuses. One legislative effort is in an early stage that will stretch until July of next year.

Hailing from the heart of the University of Arkansas system, Fayetteville, Democratic State Representative Greg Leding is leading the effort to analyze how Arkansas colleges deal with issues of sexual assault on campus.

“One of the reasons we launched this study was to drill down and find out what the students are seeing that maybe the rest of us aren’t,” said Leding.

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