Arkansas bill could prosecute women for abortions; some pro-life groups oppose

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A bill filed in the state legislature Thursday, December 19, is looking to add penalties for getting abortions in Arkansas.

However, it is already getting pushback even from pro-life organizations, like Arkansas Right to Life and Family Council.

“This is not a pro-life bill, in our opinion,” Rose Mimms with Arkansas Right to Life said. “We’re not about punishing women. We love women. We can pass laws to protect babies without punishing the mothers.”

Family Council also spoke out against the bill online in an article published Friday by Jerry Cox.

Rep. Richard Womack (R- District 18) was one of the sponsors of HB1174. He said this is simply another way to apply the current Arkansas law in place that bans the procedures in the state.

“We’re just applying what’s already understood and agreed to in Arkansas law, all the way back to the point of conception,” he said.

The most notable change would classify already-banned abortions as homicides. It would allow a woman to be prosecuted for her unborn child’s death, essentially making the death of an unborn child equivalent to the killing of any other person.

“The bill is really pretty simple,” Womack said. “It provides equal protection for citizens under the law starting at fertilization.”

Also proposed are protections to prevent a woman from being pressured to get an abortion, through means such as advertisements, solicitations or even encouragement.  

The bill excludes abortions that are necessary to save a woman’s life or accidental miscarriages.

Both Womack and Mimms are on the same page about the morality of abortion, however the punishment for getting one is still up for debate.

“Women suffer enough who have had abortions,” Mimms said. “We don’t need to add this to that. That lifelong punishment they will have themselves realizing they have lost a child.”

Mimms said their goal through Arkansas Right to Life is to protect the mom and the baby.

“I totally agree it does not protect the mom, I mean that’s never been the goal to protect the person who took innocent human life,” Womack said.

The bill was submitted with an emergency clause, which would allow for it to be enacted into law as soon as it is passed by both houses and signed by the governor, if it gets to that point.

Back in May of 2022, Mimms joined others in the pro-life movement in submitting a letter to lawmakers across the country urging them to not take up legislation like what we see in HB1174.

Mimms said since that letter was sent, she maintains her stance that this is not the route to take to protect unborn children. She is prepared to step in and fight back if needed as this bill potentially makes its way through the legislature.