Arkansas to Build Monument Commemorating Unborn Lives Lost to Abortion
In the conservative bastion of Arkansas, a new statute has been signed into law by Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R) in honor of the unborn. Senate Bill 307, introduced by Sen. Kim Hammer (R) and Rep. Mary Bentley (R), became law on March 16, authorizing the creation of a monument to commemorate the unborn lives lost between the Roe v. Wade and Dobbs v. Jackson decisions. The estimated 236,243 elective abortions that were carried out in Arkansas between 1973 and 2022 will soon be immortalized on the state capitol grounds.
Citing original signer of the Declaration of Independence and Founding Father, James Wilson, the bill references the criminality of abortion under English common law as well as Arkansas’s history of prohibiting abortion before quickening. The Natural State criminalized abortion in 2022 thanks to the “trigger” Act 180 of 2019 which went into effect this June, creating a total ban on abortion after the Dobbs decision overturned the prohibitions on state governments outlined in Roe.
Sailing through the Senate by a vote of 25-7, the bill likewise passed the House easily by a vote of 60-19.
The new statute creates a fund consisting of gifts, donations, and grants to realize the project. In addition, the Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission will be responsible for selecting an artist to memorialize the unborn. Pro-life organizations will also be consulted for creative input. The final authorization of design rests with Secretary of State John Thurston.
Democrats were joined by a few Republicans in expressing opposition to the legislation. State Rep. Jeremiah Moore (R) had apprehensions about the unintended effects the monument might create.
“I believe that life is precious, but we must approach this issue with grace. It will serve as a poke in the eye to all those who don’t share our beliefs.” Moore said.
In response, state Rep. Cindy Crawford (R) retorted, “You can ask slaves what happen[s] when we forget. We have to remember slavery in America so it won’t come back. We have to remember abortion in Arkansas so it won’t come back. There’s no reason why we can’t have a monument. It’s not a poke in the eye; it’s a ‘God forgive us for what we have done.’”
Governor Sanders has also made recent headlines thanks to her response to President Biden’s State of the Union address on February 7. In her rebuttal, Sanders reaffirmed her commitment to conservative principles, in addition to commenting on the political divide in America.
“Most Americans simply want to live their lives in freedom and peace, but we are under attack in a left-wing culture war we didn’t start and never wanted to fight. Every day, we are told that we must partake in their rituals, salute their flags, and worship their false idols…” Sanders said.
The likelihood of the monument galvanizing opposition from pro-abortion groups or serving as a somber reminder for pro-life advocacy is unknown until the memorial takes shape. So far, at least one pro-life group has already expressed support for the memorial. Mary Szoch, director of the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council, applauded the efforts of the state.
“In the state of Arkansas, unborn children are recognized for who they are — unique, unrepeatable persons made in the image of God whose lives made a difference in this world,” Szoch said. “This is enshrined in the law governing the protection of unborn children in Arkansas from the moment of conception, and now, through the work of the Arkansas state legislature, a monument on the grounds of the state capitol will also witness to this truth. What a beautiful example for the rest of the nation.”
John Kebles is an intern in the Executive Department of the Family Research Council.