While many of us are mired in hand-wringing mode over the impending end of abortion rights in Arkansas, a state legislative candidate in Rogers skipped directly to the problem-solving stage by drafting a bill that hews to Arkansas’s conservative bent while still showing compassion for rape victims.

“I think it’s really important that we talk about it in specific terms of, ‘How do we fix it?’ instead of in the general terms of ‘What if this happens?'” attorney Jennifer Standerfer explained.


The Democratic nominee to become the state representative for District 13, Standerfer isn’t waiting around to see if she wins in November before starting in on the work that needs doing. The United States Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision establishing abortion rights any minute now. Once it does, a trigger law Arkansas lawmakers passed in 2021 will go into effect immediately, ending legal abortions in this state completely, even for victims of rape or incest.

We need to be ready for a fix “on day one,” she said.


“We’re looking at a law that re-victimizes rape victims,” Standerfer said. “Anyone who’s worked with rape victims understands it’s not acceptable for us to let that happen.”

Moving away from the absolute ban set to take effect is possible, and it’s what Arkansans want. After talking about abortion access as she campaigns, Standerer said, “It has become really clear to me that rape is not a partisan issue. I have a heavy Republican district. I’m talking to Republicans and Democrats alike, pro-life and pro-choice alike, and they want to protect victims’ rights.”


With 20 years as an attorney and lots of practice working with the Arkansas legislature, Standerfer said she knew she could, so she did.

So, what happens next?

“Right now there’s no session, so there’s nothing to be done procedurally right now other than to talk about it with smart people,” she said. “I’m going to continue to talk about it with constituents and members of our House and Senate. If I’m elected, I’ll sponsor it. If I’m not, I’ll look for a sponsor.”


Come November she’ll face the winner of the June 21 Republican primary runoff between Denise Bugos and Scott Richardson, both of whom tout absolutist anti-abortion bona fides on their campaign websites. Standerfer said she’s ready to challenge that.

“I’m not willing to let the extremists take up all the air in the room anymore,” she said.