The new law outlaws abortion except in cases where the pregnancy risks the mother’s life, making it one of the most restrictive such measures in the U.S. It makes no exceptions for patients pregnant through rape or incest ― an omission that even Hutchinson once said concerned him.
The governor cited his “long-held pro-life convictions” as his reason for signing the bill into law on Tuesday. He added that he would have “preferred” legislation with exceptions for rape and incest but decided to sign it anyway.
Like most other recent attempts at extreme abortion bans, the legislation is expected to face legal challenges from pro-choice advocacy groups before it can go into effect. But that’s exactly what proponents of the ban want: to force the U.S. Supreme Court, newly loaded with conservative justices appointed by former President Donald Trump, to revisit the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that established a woman’s nationwide right to access abortion.
The law, Hutchinson admitted Tuesday, “is in contradiction of binding precedents of the U.S. Supreme Court, but it is the intent of the legislation to set the stage for the Supreme Court overturning current case law.” Planned Parenthood activists in Arkansas called that effort “cynical” and slammed state lawmakers for ignoring real public health issues facing the state.