ROLL OUT: Kristin Stuart (at left) and Allison Grigsby Sweatman (at right) of Arkansans for Limited Government with Andrea Hopper (center) at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Little Rock to collect signatures for a proposed amendment to Arkansas's near-total abortion ban. Brian Chilson

The Arkansas Abortion Amendment offers our state a once-in-a-generation chance to restore freedom, autonomy and dignity to Arkansas women and all pregnant people. We have until July 5 to collect the signatures needed to get on the ballot. Every signature is critical to get us across the finish line.

There are many situations where the political process feels rigged in this state, but the Arkansas Abortion Amendment is different. This is democracy in action. Believe it or not, this is an issue that Arkansans agree on. Polling shows that more than 60% of Arkansans support abortion in certain circumstances or feel that the government should have no say*.

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This means we can win, but to get the amendment on the ballot come November, we have to believe we can win. That support has to be turned into physical signatures: 91,704 of them by July 5. We’re counting on you, yes you, to sign the petition. Your voice does count! So have you signed?

What’s at stake

The consequences of staying home and failing to sign this Arkansas Abortion petition are dire. Whether you deeply care about women, personal freedom, social justice or our state’s economic development — or hopefully all of the above — this issue impacts you.

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Arkansas is already the most dangerous place to be pregnant in America. Arkansas’s abortion amendment has one exception in it, to save a mother’s life in the event of an “active medical emergency.” The problem with this approach is that, as one OBGYN put it recently, no doctor is willing to face a 10-year prison sentence to perform an abortion if there could be any debate about the threat to the mother’s life. As a result, being pregnant in Arkansas now means taking your life in your hands.

There’s no exception for rape under the current ban either, an unthinkable reality in a state where rape is shockingly common.

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What’s more, our state already struggles with providing children with the quality start they need in life, with sky-high rates of childhood poverty. The abortion ban is set to make things much worse. According to the Turnaway Study conducted at the University of California, women denied abortions are more likely to be impoverished, in debt and without access to food and other necessities. Their children are more likely to have developmental problems.

With control over their reproduction, women do better mentally and financially, and so do their children. That shouldn’t be surprising.

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But at its core, the debate over abortion access is about personal autonomy and the fundamental right of individuals to make deeply personal decisions about their own bodies. Only 12% of Americans support an abortion ban with no exceptions. And yet Arkansas currently lives under such a law. The ban represents a severe overreach by the government and undermines Arkansas’s state motto: Regnat Populus, which is Latin for “the people rule.”

Maybe you agree with me, but you haven’t signed. It’s easy to let this to-do item slide until later. But the time for excuses is over. We now have mere days to get the signatures needed.

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If you’ve already signed, consider finding other ways to help. Encourage others to sign the petition, share information on your social media account about local signing events and locations, donate to the campaign, volunteer. When you hear someone say there’s no way we can win, remind them why they’re wrong.

All of the information you need is on the Arkansans for Limited Government website, and on our social media accounts (@arlibertynow). If you cannot find a location or are mobility challenged, please email us at field@arliberty.org and we will assist you.

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The last day to sign is July 5, but don’t wait. Imagine how you’ll feel if we get 91,703 signatures. Get yourself and others out to sign! Hold each other accountable.

And let’s show each other that in Arkansas, the people really do rule.

Kristin Stuart is a volunteer field organizer for Arkansans for Limited Government, the group working to put abortion rights on the ballot. 

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