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Rep. Ashley Hudson, D-Little Rock, explains support for abortion amendment

Rep. Ashley Hudson, D-Little Rock, at a legislative meeting of the House Judiciary committee on Thursday, March 30, 2023.
Arkansas Legislature
Rep. Ashley Hudson, D-Little Rock, presents HB1670 to members of the House Judiciary committee on Thursday, March 30, 2023.

Last week, Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin, a Republican, certified the title for the Arkansas Abortion Amendment, which would protect abortion within 18 weeks of fertilization, or in cases of rape, incest or if the pregnancy endangers the life of the mother, if it were to pass.

In an interview with KARK Channel 4’s Capitol View, Rep. Ashley Hudson, Democrat of Little Rock, said the amendment is needed because there is a disconnect between the types of laws passed by the legislature and the types of laws that constitutes want.

“We don’t hear about the fact that we are also the number one state for maternal mortality. We have one of the highest teen pregnancy rates. We have a number of women who have pre-existing health conditions that are a danger for them to have babies. We have babies being born with fatal formalities and being born in pain,” she said.

Sam Watson, with the Arkansas for Limited Government, the group who is behind the ballot initiative, addressed criticism from Jerry Cox, founder and president of the Arkansas Family Council, who said the provision that would protect abortion within 18 weeks of fertilization is radical.

“One of the most significant anatomy scans is at 16 weeks so it’s really not a lot of time to give women the chance to make those choices with their families and their providers. That’s why we went with the 18 week mark,” he said.

In the aftermath of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, there have been state-wide ballot initiatives to create protections for abortions. In the past two years, these types of ballots have been approved by voters, even in red states like Ohio and Kansas.

Ronak Patel is a reporter for Little Rock Public Radio.
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