A lot is happening at the Capitol in Little Rock. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the bad legislation currently before the Arkansas Legislature.
SJR 18 (Ratifying the Federal Equal Rights Amendment): This proposal by Sen. Joyce Elliott (D – Little Rock) and Rep. Jamie Scott (D – North Little Rock) would make Arkansas the 38th state to ratify the federal Equal Rights Amendment. This amendment to the U.S. Constitution is intended to prevent discrimination on the basis of sex, but the way it is worded could cause it to have a number of unintended consequences. States that have passed similar amendments have been forced to pay for abortions with taxpayer funds, and the Equal Rights Amendment could affect everything from college fraternities and sororities to how men and women are housed in federal prisons. The measure is currently before the Senate State Agencies Committee. Read SJR 18 Here.
H.B. 1536 (Physician-Assisted Suicide): This bill by Rep. Dan Douglas (R – Bentonville) lets doctors prescribe lethal drugs to terminally ill patients who want to end their lives. In 1999 we worked hard to pass one of the best laws against physician-assisted suicide in the nation. This bad bill upends that good law. We know from experience in other states that people who inquire about assisted suicide generally are not concerned about pain or suffering. Many of them are lonely and feel like they are losing control over their lives because of their illness. They need counseling — not a prescription for lethal drugs. In other states, a lack of oversight has made it possible for patients who request suicide drugs to be euthanized. H.B. 1536 does not contain adequate safeguards to keep that from happening in Arkansas. Under H.B. 1536, Christian hospitals, hospices, and healthcare facilities would not be able to stop doctors who work for them from prescribing suicide drugs to their patients. The bill is currently in the House Public Health Committee. Read H.B. 1536 Here.
S.B. 304 (Sex Education): This bill by Sen. Will Bond (D – Little Rock) and Rep. LeAnne Burch (D – Monticello) requires every school district in Arkansas to offer “evidence based” health courses to 7th – 12th graders that include instruction on preventing pregnancy and sexually-transmitted diseases through abstinence and contraceptives. We know from experience that the kind of curriculum S.B. 304 mandates won’t actually teach students to be abstinent. Instead it will encourage students to be sexually active. Similar programs offered in Arkansas and nationwide in the past did not have a meaningful impact on teen birth rates or teen abortion rates. S.B. 304 simply continues these flawed policies. S.B. 304 is currently before the Arkansas Senate. Read S.B. 304 Here.
S.B. 492 (Entertainment Districts): This bill by Sen. Trent Garner (R – El Dorado) and Rep. Sonia Barker (R – Smackover) lets cities create “entertainment districts” where open containers of alcohol can be carried and consumed outdoors. An entertainment district could be temporary — such as at an event or festival — or it could be permanent. Because of their association with excessive drinking, entertainment districts in other states have raised serious concerns about crime, DUI offenses, and public safety. The bill is currently before the Senate City, County, and Local Affairs Committee. Read S.B. 492 Here.
H.B. 1290 (Contraceptives): This bill by Rep. Aaron Pilkington (R – Clarksville) and Sen. Bart Hester (R – Cave Springs) lets pharmacists dispense oral contraceptives to women without a prescription from a doctor. Oral contraceptives carry a number of health risks — which is why women currently need a prescription from a doctor — and they can cause the death of an unborn child by preventing the unborn child from implanting and growing inside the mother’s womb. That’s why Family Council opposes H.B. 1290. The bill has passed the Arkansas House of Representatives, and it is now before the Senate Public Health Committee. Read H.B. 1290 Here.