LITTLE ROCK (KATV) — Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge certified the overturn of Roe v. Wade on Friday.
In 2019, Arkansas lawmakers passed Act 180, a ‘trigger’ statute that was signed into law by Gov. Asa Hutchinson. The legislation included language that this would become law if the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
The law also known as The Arkansas Human Life Protection Act bans all abortions except so save a mother's life in an emergency medical situation, it does not include exceptions for rape or incest victims.
Rutledge, in a signing ceremony on Friday, certified the law and discussed the implications of the ruling on the state.
"I will always recall where I was when the Dobbs decision came down and as the first woman ever elected attorney general - and as someone who it took a long time for God to decide that it was time for me to be a mom - I can't wait for other women across Arkansas to have that same joy of seeing their child's face that maybe would not have seen had it not been for today's decision," Rutledge said while celebrating the decision.
Hutchinson, who is considering a run for president in 2024, was also in attendance at the signing.
"Personally, I'm grateful for the court's ruling today because I fought for a number of decades for greater protections for the unborn throughout my political life and as governor," Hutchinson said. "I'm gratified by the court's decision because the people of Arkansas have declared the public policy of this state is to protect the life of the unborn."
Hutchinson said he has directed the Arkansas Department of Human Services to enforce the law and conduct inspections on any clinic that was offering abortions in the state. If medical professionals continue to perform abortions, they face up to a $100,000 fine or up to 10 years in prison.
Also, in attendance were several lawmakers, including House Speaker Matthew Shepherd, R-El Dorado. KATV asked Shepherd whether there was a desire among lawmakers to create further legislation in the upcoming 2023 Arkansas Legislative Session - such as create laws against woman traveling to other state to seek abortions, but he said at this time he was not aware of any discussions.
Meanwhile, Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Conway, who sponsored the 2019 legislation said there is still more work to do. Rapert, who was attending the National Association of Christina Lawmakers' conference when the overturn was announced, said members rejoiced at the early morning news.
"It's a good day for Arkansas but our work is not done. The NACL [National Association of Christian Lawmakers] has committed that we are going to seek the abolishment of abortion in every state in this country because just like Abe Lincoln said, 'we cannot continue as a house divided', I don't know how you can kill a baby in one state and believe that its life is precious in another just like we don't know how you have a slave in one state but yet they be free in another," said Rapert.
"We have for far too long in this country allowed the left to dominate the conversation. You see, I believe that most people are generally good people when they're presented with the proper facts. We've had 50 years of people trying to convince others that babies are blobs of tissue - they have been lying to people. Life begins at conception; life is a gift from God," he added.
As previously reported, Rapert was running against Rutledge in the 2022 Arkansas Primary for Lieutenant Governor, but Rutledge won the GOP nomination. Rapert's term in the Arkansas Legislature ends in 2023.
*A previous version of this story stated the morning-after pill was also banned, despite some lawmakers claiming that, the Arkansas Department of Health confirmed this law does not affect over the counter medications such as the morning-after pill. Language in the law allows for prevention, it does not allow for medications to be used to terminate a pregnancy.