Arkansas county committee passes measure declaring itself ‘pro life’

Arkansas pro-life Sign at 2020 March for Life | Catholic News Agency

An Arkansas county committee passed a measure this week declaring the county “pro life.”

“It is the duty of state and local government to protect the inalienable right to life of every person within their representative jurisdiction,” said Justice of Peace (JP) Patrick Deakins for Washington County, Arkansas, who sponsored the resolution. 

The resolution advanced amid heated debate at the June 28 meeting of the Washington County Services Committee. It will go before the full county quorum court on July 15. If passed by the full court, the resolution would have no legal effect on the county, as it is simply a statement of policy. 

Citing the Trump administration’s record on the abortion issue, Deakins noted that “now we have a different administration that is quite the opposite.” Referring to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Deakins said he was appalled by her refusal to acknowledge that a 15-week-old baby is a human being. 

Deakins said the Arkansas legislature’s passing of Act 392 affirmed the right for municipalities to voice their opinions through resolutions on pro-life issues. The act, passed earlier in 2021, allowed municipal governments to declare themselves “pro-life.”

“I feel it’s our turn to make our voices heard at local levels,” he said. 

During the committee meeting, two people sitting in the public section were thrown out for disrupting the meeting. The chair of the committee, JP Sam Duncan threatened to clear the room if the disruptions continued. 

Deakins called the Washington County region “blessed,” noting the large number of nonprofits and volunteers available to help pregnant women. He said he will continue to highlight and promote these organizations in the coming weeks. 

In an attempt to halt the resolution, JP Evelyn Rios Stafford - who identifies as a transgender woman - raised a motion to table the ordinance until a financial impact analysis could be done on the resolution; Stafford did not receive any support on the motion. 

Stafford also unsuccessfully attempted to halt it by proposing amendments to the resolution. The amendments would have stated the county’s policy of providing sex education, as well as “widely available access to all forms of contraception, universal healthcare, affordable childcare support services, and a living wage.” 

JP Butch Pond supported the resolution, saying that “there is no human being more pure, more innocent, more defenseless, than the unborn child human being.” 

JP Sean Simons said, “In my opinion pro-life means a lot more than being anti-abortion. It's about creating an atmosphere and climate of life in all its abundance throughout our community, for everyone from the unborn to those on death’s door.”

Washington County’s move to declare itself pro-life follows a movement of cities around the country declaring themselves “sanctuary cities” for the unborn. 

In May, Lubbock, Texas voted to become a sanctuary city for the unborn. Lubbock’s move followed a list of seven Texas cities who voted similarly to protect the unborn.

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