War On Women Continues: Arkansas Lawmakers Seize Opportunity To Push Anti-Choice Legislation

Voters across the country rejected radical anti-choice legislation in this month’s election, and far-right candidates whose campaigns centered on denying women abortion access overwhelmingly lost their races. But that doesn’t mean anti-choice activists are giving up the War on Women quite yet. Republican lawmakers in Arkansas are already looking ahead to the new year, when they plan to push for a slew of anti-choice legislation now that the state has elected more conservatives to office.

As the Associated Press reports, abortion opponents in Arkansas are seizing a new opportunity to revisit their anti-choice agenda now that the election is over — even though their efforts failed during this past legislative session:

Fresh off an election where Republicans won control of the state House and Senate for the first time in 138 years, GOP lawmakers and anti-abortion groups are now focusing on a handful of bills they believe have a better chance. […]

“I will say that basically any opportunity now is more than any opportunity than we had in the previous session,” said Rep. Andy Mayberry, R-Hensley.

Mayberry said he plans to reintroduce legislation next year that would ban abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy, based on the disputed claim that a fetus can feel pain after that point. Mayberry’s bill was one of 10 anti-abortion measures that failed to clear the House Public Health Committee during last year’s session, and it’s one of three measures that Arkansas Right to Life says it plans to push for in the legislative session that begins Jan. 14.

A similar 20-week ban on abortions enacted in Arizona is currently being considered in court after the ACLU sued to block it, citing the law’s “truly, horrifically narrow” medical exception that could prevent women from getting abortions even in cases when it is medically necessary for them to end a pregnancy. In addition to Mayberry’s fetal pain bill, anti-choice activists hope Arkansas’ newly elected Republican lawmakers can push through measures to prevent the state’s health insurance exchange from offering coverage for abortion services and ban doctors from administering the abortion pill through video supervision in rural health clinics.

And Arkansas isn’t the only state where anti-choice lawmakers are eager to get back to work on crafting legislation to deny women their reproductive rights. Ohio lawmakers are taking advantage of the current lame duck session to push through measures to restrict abortion access and defund Planned Parenthood, and right-wing activists in Wisconsin are encouraging lawmakers to consider bills to force mandatory ultrasounds upon women seeking abortions.