In the wake of an alarming decision by the Alabama Supreme Court, the landscape of reproductive healthcare in Arkansas is even more dire than before. 

A recent Alabama Supreme Court ruling has deemed frozen embryos to be children.

As expected, the news has sent shockwaves through the medical community. And the ruling ushers in devastating consequences for those seeking in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments in Alabama and beyond.

Now, more than ever, we must turn our attention to our own state’s reproductive healthcare crisis. 

Despite Arkansas’s full abortion ban, the Alabama ruling is a harbinger for us in the Natural State, where extremist, anti-healthcare policies are proposed in every legislative session and where a Sanders-backed state Supreme Court has boundless power to interpret state law. 

A full ban is not pro-life policy 

Arkansans are at a critical juncture: the current law, which bans abortion in every instance except to save the life of the mother (a legally ambiguous guideline for medical providers), is rooted in decades of political rhetoric meant to lock down GOP support from religious voters, especially Southern white women

Our anti-abortion law is not based on a desire to truly be the most pro-life state in the nation; if that were true, Arkansas would prioritize the myriad of social safety nets needed to help mothers and families stay afloat after birth. We would have passed postpartum medicaid coverage for up to 12 months after a mother delivers. 

We wouldn’t have dis-enrolled 420,000 Arkansas from Medicaid in half the required time, forcing the loss of coverage for thousands who do in fact qualify but were kicked off due to paperwork technicalities or administrative issues.

No, our law is not based on decades of medical research of scientific best practices. Instead, our law is crafted and enacted by a select few who are out of step healthcare providers and the people of this state, who like most Americans, believe a full ban on abortion is too extreme

The threat extends beyond our current law

Our current abortion ban is not the end of the threat to Arkansas women and families, either. 

Recent proposals by Arkansas legislators to ban chemical abortions (used for miscarriage management) and mandate informed consent for oral contraceptives (equating birth control with abortion) should paint a chilling picture for residents; women’s healthcare is under siege. State leaders have shown they will stop at nothing to erode what little bodily autonomy we have left. 

Now factor in the Alabama ruling. 

The court’s draconian decision is a clarion call. Arkansans must take immediate action to safeguard what few right reproductive rights we currently have and to take back those that were stolen from us with the Dobbs decision. 

Alabama’s ruling, if left unchallenged, will reverberate far beyond its state lines, setting a dangerous precedent that emboldens extremists and threatens the sanctity of reproductive choice nationwide.

Patients at University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), where the IVF program has been abruptly halted in the aftermath of the court’s ruling, have been the first to feel the impact of the court’s move

Families grappling with infertility now face the agonizing choice of either pausing their journey to parenthood or risking criminal prosecution for seeking standard medical care. 

The Alabama Supreme Court’s interpretation of IVF embryos as children is the embodiment of extremist ideology. Is this the state policy we want for families struggling to conceive? 

This scenario will undoubtably make its way to Arkansas families soon. Under our abortion ban, Arkansas families already face similar decisions; state leaders are poised to make these choices even more impossible.

Now is the time to act

Here’s what it will take to make sure this regressive tide stops at the Arkansas state line: 

Sign the petition for the Arkansas Abortion Amendment immediately to help ensure it’s placed on the November ballot. 

Tell every single person you know how important its passage is. 

If you can, commit to volunteering or donating to help get the Amendment passed. 

The Arkansas Abortion Amendment represents a crucial lifeline in the battle to enshrine sensible abortion access into the state constitution. By mobilizing support for this amendment, we can send a powerful message that women’s healthcare is private, sacred, and none of the government’s business. The autonomy of individuals and the choices of Arkansas families must be respected and protected.

We cannot afford to be complacent. We must unite to confront the danger of extremism and ensure that essential healthcare decisions remain between individuals and their healthcare providers, free from interference by radical politicians who want to make choices for you.