Arkansas Republican Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed a new bill into law allowing a pro-life monument to be installed near the state Capitol to remember the lives lost to abortion.
The privately-funded “monument to the unborn” would mark the number of abortions performed in Arkansas before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year, a decision that allowed states to make their own abortion laws.
The bill was passed by the state House last week after being approved by the state Senate earlier in the month.
The new law requires the Arkansas secretary of state to permit and arrange the placement of the monument. The law also requires the Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission to oversee the selection of the artist and the design of the monument, which will include input from pro-life groups.
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An abortion ban approved in Arkansas in 2019 went into effect last year after the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the 1973 decision Roe v. Wade. Under the ban, abortions are only allowed in cases where the procedure is necessary to save the life of the mother in a medical emergency.
In 2018, Tennessee lawmakers approved a bill allowing a similar privately funded monument on its Capitol grounds, but that monument has still not been installed.
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The Arkansas measure drew opposition from Democrats, who said it was politicized and divisive, and some anti-abortion Republicans, who argued that the proposal was counterproductive and that efforts would be better served focusing on other initiatives such as supporting pregnant women and foster children.
“This monument will do nothing for the pro-life cause as we move forward together,” Republican state Rep. Jeremiah Moore said last week in voting against the bill. “It will only be used as a weapon to rally against pro-life values through fundraising and stirring up anger and vitriol.”
Other monuments on Arkansas’ state Capitol grounds include a sculpture of the nine black students who integrated Little Rock Central High School in the 1950s and a Ten Commandments monument that was installed in 2018.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.