A rally for abortion rights May 3, 2022, at the Arkansas Capitol. Brian Chilson

A group seeking to largely restore abortion rights in Arkansas may now begin collecting signatures to put a proposed constitutional amendment in front of voters this November.

Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin certified the popular name and ballot title of the “Arkansas Abortion Amendment” Tuesday after rejecting two earlier proposals over a lack of clarity and a supposed partisan tinge in the name of the measure. It was originally called the “Arkansas Reproductive Healthcare Amendment.”

Advertisement

The group behind the proposal, Arkansans for Limited Government, must now collect over 90,000 signatures before July 5 to qualify for the November ballot. 

The amendment would permit abortions up to the 18th week of pregnancy, as well as in cases of rape, incest, fatal fetal anomalies and when necessary to prevent physical harm to the mother. Currently, Arkansas has a near-total ban on abortion, allowing the procedure only when a mother’s life is imminently threatened. The current law includes no exceptions for rape or incest or in cases in which the fetus will be unable to survive outside the womb.

Advertisement

Griffin issued a statement declaring his opposition to abortion but saying he must follow the law when assessing ballot measures.

“When reviewing proposed ballot initiatives, I follow an 80-year-old process,” the attorney general said. “I am and have always been strongly pro-life, but the law does not allow me to consider my own personal views. I am guided by the law and the law alone. I routinely certify proposals I personally oppose. Conversely, I routinely reject proposals I personally support.”

Advertisement

Here’s the letter from Griffin’s office, which includes the ballot title of the amendment itself.

Gennie Diaz, the director of the group For AR People — a part of Arkansans for Limited Government — said the group plans to dive into collecting signatures as soon as possible. (For AR People is also a content partner of the Arkansas Times.)

Advertisement

“This shifts us from a passive waiting phase in which the ball is in the AG’s court,” Diaz said. “The ball is in our court now. … We are going on the offense. We are not defending a constitutional right to an abortion; we’re trying to restore something that was taken away.”