Arkansas GOP governor said the near-total ban on abortion he signed is designed to land before the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade

Asa Hutchinson
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaks at a news conference at the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock, August 4, 2015.

  • Arkansas Gov. Hutchinson said his anti-abortion law is designed to be argued before the Supreme Court.
  • The law is a near-total ban on abortion, with no exceptions in cases of rape or incest.
  • “I signed it because it is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade,” he told CNN.
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Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, on Sunday said the near-total ban on abortion he signed into law earlier in March was designed to land before the Supreme Court.

Hutchinson made the comments Sunday during an interview with CNN’s “State of the Union”

“It is not constitutional under Supreme Court cases right now,” he told CNN’s Dana Bash. “And I did prefer a rape and incest exception. I didn’t get a vote on that. And so I signed it because it is a direct challenge to Roe vs. Wade. That was the intent of it.”

He said “the whole design” of the law was to get the Supreme Court to reconsider its ruling in Roe v. Wade.

Hutchinson signed the bill into law on March 9, as The Associated Press reported, even though he at the time had expressed concerns over its lack of exceptions for rape or incest. Under the law, abortion is only permissible in cases where a mother’s life is in danger.

The bill is just one example of Republican-backed challenges to abortion that have appeared in state legislatures across the US this year.

“I think there’s a very narrow chance that the Supreme Court will accept that case, but we will see,” Hutchinson said Sunday. “And, again, I would prefer – it’s been my historic position that the three exceptions would be rape, incest, and the life of the mother.

“But this is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade,” he continued. “And that’s the intent of the legislation.”

As the Associated Press noted when the bill was signed earlier this month, it won’t go into effect until 90 after the date it was signed into law, meaning it can’t be enforced until this summer at the earliest. Groups centered on protecting access to abortion have said they planned to issue legal challenges to the legislation, according to the report.

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NARAL President Ilyse Hogue says the organization is ‘certainly preparing’ for the end of Roe v. Wade

Ilyse Hogue
NARAL president Ilyse Hogue speaks at a protest against the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court on October 22, 2020.

  • NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue said in a recent Daily Beast podcast interview the organization is working to protect women’s reproductive rights with a deeply conservative Supreme Court in place.
  • In a discussion with editor-at-large Molly Jong-Fast, Hogue discussed Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the US and afforded women a constitutional right to the procedure.
  • “A lot of our work over the last few years has been about making sure that we have what we call islands of access — blue states that are codifying the right to abortion, making sure that we have like practice in place where women can go,” Hogue said.
  • For decades, conservatives have sought to overturn the ruling, but lacked a lopsided majority on the Supreme Court, one that they now possess with the installation of Judges Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett to the court.
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NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue said in a recent Daily Beast podcast interview that the organization is working to protect women’s reproductive rights in the wake of a sharply conservative Supreme Court that came to fruition during President Donald Trump’s tenure.

During an episode of “The New Abnormal” featuring editor-at-large Molly Jong-Fast, the discussion about women’s healthcare landed on Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the US and afforded women a constitutional right to the procedure. For decades, conservatives have sought to overturn the ruling, but lacked a lopsided majority on the Supreme Court, one that they now possess with the installation of Judges Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett to the court.

Jong-Fast suggested the US could “really lose Roe,” which Hogue further expanded on.

“We absolutely could, and we’re certainly preparing with our partners in the movement for that,” Hogue said. “A lot of our work over the last few years has been about making sure that we have what we call islands of access – blue states that are codifying the right to abortion, making sure that we have like practice in place where women can go.”

She added: “And at the same time, we have to walk and chew gum.”

While the Gorsuch and Kavanaugh nominations left a 5-4 conservative edge on the court, Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death in September 2020 further reduced the liberal wing’s impact on the court. Trump quickly nominated Barrett to replace Ginsburg, a longtime feminist judicial icon, with the Senate confirming the nomination only days before the November election.

Trump has opposed women’s reproductive rights, from re-enacting the Mexico City policy, a global gag rule that blocks US funding for non-governmental organizations that perform abortions or give abortion referrals, to appointing legions of anti-choice judges to the federal bench.

With the election victory of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, NARAL will soon have allies in the White House once again, but Hogue stressed that a lot of work still has to be done, including Biden rescinding the Mexico City policy.

When Jong-Fast suggested Biden’s administration could include “women’s health czar,” Hogue said she’d support such a move.

“It would send such a clear message that that terrible era that Trump ushered in is over,” she said.

Hogue said the anti-choice pieces of legislation championed by Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were rooted in control.

“It has always been about targeting women and women of color,” she said. “And it’s always been about forcing women to adhere to a very narrow period view of where they think our role in society is.”

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