National Partnership for Women & Families

In the News

Abortion-Rights Supporters Rally in Ark.; Advocates Urge Opposition to Restrictions in Mont.

About 200 individuals rallied at the Arkansas Capitol on Saturday to support abortion rights and reproductive health in the sixth annual Arkansas Rally for Reproductive Justice, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports.

According to the Democrat-Gazette, the state Legislature has passed several abortion-rights restrictions over the last two regular sessions. Lawmakers and lobbyists say they plan to advocate for additional restrictions next year.

Rally Details

During the rally, several reproductive-health advocates spoke about improving abortion access, reproductive health care for transgender individuals and sexuality education.

Speakers also criticized recent antiabortion-rights legislation in the state. They said the measures harm women by hindering timely access to abortion care, raising the cost of care and spreading medically incorrect information.

Stephanie Ho, a doctor, said a state law (Act 577) that requires physicians to give patients scientifically unproven information about medication abortion has "required [her] to lie to [her] patients." In addition, Ho criticized measures that require women to receive more consultations with doctors prior to receiving abortion care, saying such rules delay the procedure for women who already have decided abortion care is appropriate for them.

State Sen. Joyce Elliot (D) also spoke during the rally. "It grieves me, young people, that we are still talking today about ... what a woman can and cannot do with her body," she said (Walkenhorst, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 1/24).

Abortion-Rights Rally Backs Access in Mont.

In related news, abortion-rights supporters on Friday gathered in Billings, Mont., to commemorate the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade and call for continued opposition to restrictions on reproductive rights in the state, Helena Independent Record reports.

Speaking at the rally, Martha Stahl, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Montana, said, "Ending access to abortions will not end abortions. It will end access to safe and legal abortions with medical assistance." Stahl added, "At Planned Parenthood, we will never back down, and we will never shut our doors."

State Reps. Jessica Karjala (D) and Kathy Kelker (D) also spoke at the rally. Karjala said, "A woman's right to choose ... should not depend on other people's approval, and it should not depend on where she lives." Kelker added that decision to have an abortion "cannot and should not be made by anyone but the woman, perhaps her family and her physicians."

The speakers also criticized Texas' omnibus antiabortion rights law (HB 2), which is facing a legal challenge before the Supreme Court in March (Olson, Helena Independent Record, 1/22). HB 2 has already closed about half of the abortion clinics in Texas. The case, Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, centers on two provisions. One requires abortion clinics in the state to meet the same building standards as ambulatory surgical centers, and the other requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/6).