Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders approves monument to aborted fetuses

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Arkansas will build a monument to mark the abortions performed in the state before Roe v Wade was struck down last year.

Senate Bill 307 has already been signed into law by Republican Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders. The bill allows the construction of a “monument to the unborn” near the state’s Capitol grounds.

Anti-abortion groups and the Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission will choose artists and oversee the design of the privately-funded monument.

The bill, sponsored by GOP state Senator Kim Hammer, claims that Arkansas was “prevented from protecting the life of unborn children by the decisions of the United State Supreme Court in Roe v Wade” from 1973 until it was overruled last year. It also states that around 236,243 “elective abortions” were performed during that period.

Arkansas has one of the most draconian laws concerning abortion rights in the US. The trigger ban — which was drafted in 2019 and went into effect following the Roe v Wade downfall — prohibits abortions at all stages of pregnancy unless the procedure is needed to save the pregnant individual’s life.

The monument will be funded by donations made to the “Monument to Unborn Children Display Fund.”

Once an artist is chosen, the Arkansas Secretary of State will arrange “the construction, placement, and dedication of the monument on the State Capitol grounds.”

Gov Sanders signed the bill less than a week after it was passed with a 60-19 vote in the GOP-led Arkansas House.

Some anti-abortion Republicans, such as Representative Steve Unger, argued that building the monument would only escalate the divisiveness on both sides of the abortion debate.

“Public memorials to our nation’s wars where we face an external threat are right and proper,” Mr Unger said, per ABC. “A memorial to an ongoing culture war where we seem to be shooting at each other is not.”

Other monuments on the state Capitol grounds include a sculpture of the nine Black students who integrated Little Rock Central High School and a Ten Commandments monument installed in 2018.

A similar effort to install a “monument to the unborn” was approved by Tennessee lawmakers in 2018 but its construction has yet to begin.