Personhood Arkansas Refiles Pro-life Amendment

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Pro-life group resubmits the right to life amendment to the Arkansas Attorney General's office.

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Personhood Arkansas has resubmitted a state constitutional amendment that would guarantee the right to life of all human beings. Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel cited multiple reasons for rejecting the measure last week. The pro-life group has adopted several of the AG’s recommendations, and they are expecting a more favorable second opinion. If approved, organizers will have until July to collect the 73,800 signatures required for ballot access.

In his opinion, McDaniel argued that the measure’s popular name must include the effects of the amendment, a charge the proponents contest in an addendum to the resubmission. “Under the AG’s standard of review, the people would not be able to initiate a measure on 'Freedom of Speech' because the popular name “Freedom of Speech” would not specifically describe political contributions, obscenity and pornography, artistic expression, the right to protest, etc.,” they wrote.

The phrase “every stage of development” was utilized to define the inclusive scope of the protections ensured by the amendment. McDaniel also claimed that the phrase was ambiguous.

Personhood advocates responded that “the term is used in dozens of state laws, several federal laws, and in the most commonly used medical and biological system of scientific classification of the human being, the Carnegie Stages of Human Development. For example, the federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act applies to any ‘member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb.’”

The proposal also clarifies that the “Amendment shall have no effect on medical treatment for life threatening physical conditions intended to preserve life.” McDaniel questioned why the mother’s life was not specifically mentioned, supposing that the language was chosen to avoid “constitutional difficulties.” However, the amendment drafters point out that the language was carefully considered and chosen to include medical conditions such as twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome which can pose a threat to the life of children in utero.

“These are just a few examples of the errors Attorney General McDaniel made when issuing his opinion last week,” said Personhood Arkansas’ Preston Dunn. “Our hope is that the AG’s office will act in good faith by offering support to those of us who want the democratic initiative process to work for everyone including those who are gravely concerned about the 4,532 preborn children killed in our state in 2010.”

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Jennifer Mason
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