Arkansas is the most pro-life state in the nation according to a national anti-abortion advocacy group.
The designation comes from the Washington, D.C.-based Americans United for Life, which ranks each state based on laws and policies aimed at restricting access to the procedure.
Speaking in a news conference at the state Capitol on Wednesday, Americans United for Life president and CEO Catherine Glenn Foster said states have more leeway to restrict the procedure as federal courts tilt more conservative.
"We have seen with the elevation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett that we now have a solid pro-life majority on the United States Supreme Court. And that means that state lawmakers across America, and led by Arkansas, will have the chance to pass meaningful community protections for the pre-born and their mothers that won’t be immediately struck down by activist, pro-abortion federal courts," Foster said.
The announcement comes as the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday declined to reconsider its decision which would allow four Arkansas laws limiting access to abortion to take effect. Those include a ban on the procedure after 14 weeks of pregnancy, as well as a requirement to notify a person’s family of their abortion. Those restrictions could go into effect as soon as next Tuesday.
Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin said an expanded Republican majority in the state legislature will push Arkansas to further restrict access to abortion.
"People are doing their jobs in this building and around government, but make no mistake about it; if different people were elected by the State of Arkansas, you’d be getting a different result. It is that simple, folks," Griffin said.
Griffin cited the recent victories of state Senator-elect Ben Gilmore and Representative-elect Howard Beaty as wins for pro-life activists. Lawmakers have already filed a bill that would outlaw most forms of abortion in Arkansas ahead of the legislative session which begins next month.
Arkansas’ abortion rate has dropped by half in the past 20 years, according to the Little Rock-based Family Council. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge also voiced her approval for the designation, saying the state has brought six lawsuits regarding pro-life issues since she first took office in 2015.
"Five of those have had final decisions in them. Of the five, and we’re still waiting on one… we have successfully defended and won four out of the five cases on behalf of the State of Arkansas," Rutledge said. "That’s a record I will take any day of the week."
Louisiana took the second-place spot in the Americans United for Life rankings, followed by Oklahoma, Mississippi, Indiana and Kansas. All six states bordering Arkansas were in the list's top 20, while Vermont was named the least pro-life state.
Arkansas currently has three abortion clinics, with two in Little Rock and one in Fayetteville. Only one, Little Rock Family Planning Services, provides surgical abortions in addition to abortion by medication.