This week, the House passed HR1003, a resolution opposing the Arkansas Abortion Amendment. The resolution was full of misinformation, propaganda, fear-mongering, and perhaps worst of all, anti-democratic sentiment.

How does it feel, Arkansas, to see that your legislators think so poorly of you that they presume to tell you how to vote on a citizen-led ballot initiative? We think more highly of Arkansans than they do. 

We oppose the resolution, naturally, but as we tend to do, we’re also taking this as an opportunity to point out some propaganda techniques.  

Rep. Mary Bentley, everyone’s favorite fast-talking anti-vaxxer, had this to say on social media.

She makes two claims here, both commonly used by anti-abortion extremists: 

  1. The Arkansas Abortion Amendment would legalize “partial birth abortions.” 
  2. It would strip away all “health protections for women.”

Let’s dive into why they’re both completely incorrect! 

Would the Amendment legalize “Partial Birth Abortion”? 

Short answer: absolutely not. 

Long answer: partial birth abortion has been banned in the US since 2007. The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, upheld a federal ban on the procedure in a case called Gonzales v. Carhart. Doctors at the time criticized the decision, most notably the lack of health exceptions in the law under review, which sounds familiar to us! 

Regardless, however, that case still stands, so we can respond to Bentley’s first lie with a simple “No, it really wouldn’t.” The Arkansas Constitution does not supersede the United States Supreme Court, much as Bentley might like the opposite to be the case. No partial-birth abortions will be performed in Arkansas should this amendment pass. 

Easy answer. Next! 

Would the Amendment remove health protections for women?” 

Short answer: also no. 

Bentley seems to be referring to this series of words in the amendment: “The government of the State of Arkansas, its officers, or its political subdivisions shall not prohibit, penalize, delay, or restrict abortion services.” You can read more of the context of this statement here, but it appears in Sections 1 and 2. 

Bentley thinks that that series of words would remove health protections for women. As we and others have comprehensively argued over the past few months, abortion is, in fact, healthcare. In reality, that series of words simply removes the government from the exam room, and leaves it up to doctors and patients to decide on the best course of treatment. Something that, based on every available data set we have, protects women and their families from harm, by definition can’t remove healthcare protections.

This piece of propaganda goes hand in hand with another: that unlicensed practitioners will perform abortion procedures. The attempt to claim that back-alley abortions will increase under the amendment is facially ludicrous. 

Studies show that regardless of bans, people seek out reproductive healthcare. Here’s an excellent breakdown of available data from Pew Research, the noted polling group. 

I would rather that healthcare be provided by highly educated and trained doctors. 

Bentley and her allies – the party of small government, they claim – assume that because the state doesn’t restrict abortion in some way, doctors will just perform them willy-nilly when nothing could be further from the truth. As Dr. Amy Galdamez explained in her op-ed in the Democrat-Gazette

“I promise no woman ever wants to terminate a pregnancy. I promise you no doctor ever wants to perform a pregnancy termination. And none of us OB/GYN physicians want routine pregnancy termination to be any woman’s family planning method of choice. But I can also promise that the need for it to be available legally, locally, safely, as a health-care service will persist.”

Bentley’s crew completely ignores the fact that medicine across specialities is incredibly well-regulated, and abortion nation-wide is one of the most widely studied and regulated medical procedures and has repeatedly been shown to be safe. 

Their objection to the abortion amendment is simple: they want the decision-making power. They don’t want you and your doctor exercising this kind of freedom. This pablum about “women’s health protections” being removed is a red herring. 

Women’s health protections will remain in place because that’s how doctors are trained and that’s how medicine works

Do you want Ryan Rose making your healthcare decisions, or someone who: went to medical school for four years; completed a four-year-long OB/GYN residency; and finished off with a 2-3 year-long OB/GYN fellowship?