What Does Arkansas’ Abortion Ban Actually Say?

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (left) and Family Council President Jerry Cox hold the official certification that Roe is reversed and Act 180 of 2019 is in effect.

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to reverse Roe v. Wade, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge certified that Act 180 of 2019 prohibiting abortion except to save the life of the mother is in effect.

Family Council worked in support of Act 180 with our friends in the Arkansas Legislature and with other pro-life organizations.

Below is a brief overview of the law:

  • Act 180 is a “trigger law” that was designed to take effect when Roe v. Wade was overturned.
  • Act 180 prohibits abortion in Arkansas except to save the mother’s life.
  • It says anyone who performs an illegal abortion can be fined up to $100,000 and imprisoned for up to 10 years.
  • It does not prosecute a woman who has an illegal abortion.
  • It doesn’t criminalize miscarriage.
  • The law permits procedures to remove an unborn baby who has died as a result of a miscarriage.
  • It doesn’t apply to ectopic pregnancies.
  • Act 180 doesn’t prohibit an OB/GYN from inducing labor or performing an emergency C-section.
  • It contains clear exceptions for contraception—including the “morning after” pill or Plan B.
  • Act 180 doesn’t prevent a pregnant woman from receiving medical treatments—such as chemotherapy—that carry risk for the unborn child.

Act 180 of 2019 had 47 legislative sponsors and co-sponsors.

Three-quarters of the Arkansas Legislature voted in favor of the measure, and Governor Hutchinson signed it on February 19, 2019.

Public opinion polling shows 79% of likely voters in Arkansas believe abortion should be either completely illegal or legal only under certain circumstances.

Act 180 reflects that. It generally prohibits abortion, but it makes exceptions for serious medical complications—like an ectopic pregnancy—and for circumstances when the mother’s life is in jeopardy.

Articles appearing on this website are written with the aid of Family Council’s researchers and writers.

Arkansas’ Leaders Respond to Reversal of Roe

On Friday the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark decision reversing Roe v. Wade by a vote of 6-3.

Arkansas’ pro-life leaders and elected officials issued statements in response to the ruling.

Family Council President Jerry Cox said,

This is historic. There are people who have dedicated their entire lives to reversing Roe v. Wade. It’s incredible to see that happen. Today’s Supreme Court decision recognizes that Roe v. Wade was wrong from the very beginning. As long as this ruling stands and our pro-life laws are enforced, thousands of unborn babies will be saved from abortion in Arkansas and elsewhere every year. That’s a reason to celebrate.

Arkansas Right to Life Director Rose Mimms said,

I want to say thanks be to God who made this day happen. . . . We are going to fight with everything we have to keep Arkansas a pro-life state and to make our nation a pro-life country.

U.S. Senator Tom Cotton said,

“Roe was a tragic mistake, taking from the American people and their elected representatives a deeply moral question. The Supreme Court has finally corrected this mistake and I highly commend the millions of Americans who toiled for years to achieve this great victory for unborn life and self-government.”

U.S. Senator John Boozman said,

“This is a long-awaited, consequential day for our nation. The Supreme Court’s decision to affirm there is no constitutional right to indiscriminately sacrifice the lives of children in their mothers’ wombs is the culmination of decades of work to correct the tragic, deadly lie that unborn babies are expendable and undeserving of protection. I’m pleased to have helped confirm justices to our nation’s highest court who are committed to interpreting the Constitution in a manner that is consistent and true to its intent and meaning. With this ruling, the American people will finally have the opportunity to enact their will on this issue instead of unelected judges in Washington, D.C. I am proud of Arkansas’s steadfast commitment to defend the sanctity, dignity and value of every human life, including vulnerable children who deserve our compassion and care.”

U.S. Congressman French Hill (AR-02) tweeted:

As a man of faith and as a father, I have always and will continue to support policies that uplift families and value life. I am pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision today, that elevates life by affirming that there is no constitutional right to an abortion.

U.S. Congressman Steve Womack (AR-03) wrote:

The dignity and value of each human life has been upheld. This decision rightfully restores the American people’s ability to protect babies and recognizes the science-backed truths of the humanity of the unborn. The Supreme Court’s duty is to follow the Constitution and enact jurisprudence based in fact. Today, reason—not bullying and intimidation tactics—prevailed. Arkansans celebrate knowing the innocent lives and morality at the heart of this case have been given a voice.

U.S. Congressman Bruce Westerman (AR-04) wrote:

“I am ecstatic to see the U.S. Supreme Court today rectify its 1973 decision by reversing Roe v. Wade and sending the issue of abortion back to the States,” said Rep. Westerman. “Life is a right. Abortion is not. Our system of government is not based on unelected judges creating a right that doesn’t exist in the Constitution. A new day has dawned in America, and many innocent lives will be saved in the years to come. Make no mistake, we must help struggling women and ensure they have every resource they need throughout and after pregnancy. Women will always have choices. As many as two million U.S. families are looking to adopt at any given time, while roughly 700,000 abortions are performed each year. Each of these precious lives could have a family ready and willing to provide a loving home. I look forward to a day when all Americans reject the horrors of abortion in their own states to ensure the right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for every child.”

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said,

For decades I have said Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided. Today, the Supreme Court overturned the abortion ruling and returned the issue to the states. Arkansas is a pro-life state, and we are able now to protect life.