REP. MARY BENTLEY (file) Brian Chilson

A bill that would pave the way for the creation of a “monument to the unborn” passed the House on Tuesday and now heads to Gov. Sarah Sanders to be signed into law.

Senate Bill 307, sponsored by Sen. Kim Hammer (R-Benton) and Rep. Mary Bentley (R-Perryville), would allow for private funds to pay for a monument dedicated to the embryos aborted when women still had bodily autonomy in Arkansas. The Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission will oversee the selection of the sculptor and the design; the secretary of state will have final approval of both.

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Bentley promised the design would be “something beautifully done to honor precious children.”

Rep. Steve Unger (R-Springdale) described himself as an ordained Baptist who had long battled in the trenches against abortion, but said he was against the proposal. “This has the look and feel of spiking the football,” he said. “It looks like gloating.”

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“This will have an unintended effect on the pro-life cause,” Rep. Jeremiah Moore (R-Clarendon) said. “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.” The monument will be used as a symbol for people who believe abortion should be legal to fundraise around.

Rep. Cindy Crawford (R-Fort Smith) said, “You can ask slaves what happen 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.”

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The bill passed 60-19 with 11 members voting present (same as a no).

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