It’s hardly a surprise that the national and Arkansas “Right to Life” groups have endorsed Asa Hutchinson. He not only opposes abortion, he supports the unconstitutional 12- and 20-week abortion bans by the Arkansas legislature. (Some lawyer.) He also has made clear for decades that he opposes abortion even in the case of rape and incest.
Exceptions for rape once were standard even among anti-abortion opponents. But the landscape has changed. Now prohibition rules politically. Just yesterday in Missouri, the legislature overrode the governor’s veto of a three-day-waiting period for an abortion, a de facto prohibition measure.
I’m not sure much political ground is to be gained under the circumstances from pointing out Hutchinson’s absolutist view, but here it is, from 1986, in a Democrat-Gazette account:
“Mr. Hutchinson said he wanted to make it illegal for a woman to get an abortion no matter if she was the victim of rape or incest. The only exception would be if her life became endangered by the birth. No matter what ‘unfortunate circumstances’ caused the pregnancy, a woman should be made to bear the child, he said.”
Democrat Mike Ross has a miserable record by lights of advocates of women’s reproductive rights. In the legislature and Congress, he was a steady voter in favor of anti-abortion measures, though he once did vote to allow resumption of family planning support in foreign aid (this wasn’t really about abortion, though “pro-life” forces contended it was). But his votes, at least, generally were for measures that provided exceptions for rape and incest and, in some cases, life and health of the mother. Ross also has said he, like Gov. Mike Beebe, would have vetoed unconstitutional abortion legislation because, well, it was unconstitutional. One, the 12-week ban, has already been struck down in court. The other will go down if challenged, though it is also mostly pointless. There are virtually no post-20-week abortions in Arkansas and when they occur they are a response to emergency medical circumstances.
This limited willingness to allow a few abortions makes Ross too extreme for the anti-abortionists. They want to remove from women all reproductive decisions apart from having sex (on that last, though, you can’t be too sure.) This idea of prohibition begins at the microscopic stage — the morning after sex (no pills for women after sex, by rape or consensual act). It extends of course to the the desperate situations when fatal fetal abnormalities are discovered. Women must be made to carry fetuses to term, regardless, they believe. That’s the pro-life position. The health, emotional well-being and circumstances of a woman do not constitute a life, apparently.
Polls show the majority of women in Arkansas still favor preservation of legal availability of abortion, if with many limitations. Asa Hutchinson doesn’t. If issues matter, there’s one.