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Attorney general’s office rejects abortion ballot question

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(The Center Square) – The Arkansas attorney general’s office said a ballot question seeking to change the state’s abortion laws due to “ambiguities” in the text.

Arkansans for Limited Government said Monday they submitted a ballot question that would allow abortion up to 18 weeks or after that in the case of rape, incest, the life of the mother or a fatal fetal anomaly. The ballot question is entitled “The Arkansas Reproductive Healthcare Amendment.”

The ballot question is “tinged with partisan coloring and misleading because your proposal is solely related to abortion, not ‘reproductive healthcare’ generally,” Deputy Attorney General Ryan Owsley said in the opinion approved by Attorney General Tim Griffin.

“Therefore, in the future, if your proposal measure were at the stage where it could be certified, I would have to substitute and certify a different popular name,” Owsley said. “I am flagging this for you now so you can provide an alternative if you would like.”

Owsley also questioned the use of the term “health,” saying the ballot question was not clear in what the word intended to mean.

” Is the term intended to cover physical health only, or also mental health?” Owsley asked in the opinion. “If the term is limited to physical health, is that intended to be restricted to emergent medical conditions? Or does it the term also extend to pregnancies that increase the risk of certain medical complications?”

The group said it planned to revise the ballot question immediately.

“We appreciate the attorney general’s thorough review of and impartial response to the amendment’s language,” the group said in a news release Tuesday. “We are also heartened by the overwhelming support we have received from Arkansans across the state, including pledges to sign a future petition in favor of the Arkansas Reproductive Healthcare Amendment.”

If Griffin’s office approves a revised amendment, the group must gather 90,704 signatures representing at least 50 of Arkansas’ 75 counties for a constitutional amendment, according to the secretary of state’s office.

Arkansas’ abortion trigger law took effect in June 2022 after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. The state law bans all abortion except to save the life of the mother.

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