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Arkansas AG rejects proposed ballot language enshrining abortion in state constitution

by

Daily Caller News Foundation

Republican Attorney General Tim Griffin of Arkansas rejected language for a proposed abortion amendment in a letter Tuesday, saying that it was “internally inconsistent” and did not properly define the terms “health” and “access.”

The language for “The Arkansas Reproductive Healthcare Amendment” was submitted to Griffin’s office on November 9 by Arkansans for Limited Government, according to Arkansas Democrat Gazette. Griffin noted in his letter that his decision to reject the proposed language was not influenced by personal feelings on the issue but rather by multiple inconsistencies and unclear language.

“Having reviewed the text of your proposed constitutional amendment, as well as your proposed popular name and ballot title, I must reject your popular name and ballot title due to ambiguities in the text of your proposed measure that prevent me from ensuring that the ballot title you have submitted, or any ballot title I would substitute, is not misleading,” Griffin explained. “The following quotes are taken from the relevant sections of your proposed text.”

Griffin took issue with the way the language used the terms “access” and “health,” according to the letter. The former, Griffin said, could “be read in two different ways depending on how the phrase” is used.

“Is your intent to limit government action regarding abortion itself or regarding access to abortion? Under the Arkansas Supreme Court’s caselaw, the ballot title would need to describe the nature of the restriction you intend to propose. Because of this lack of clarity, I am unable to say that your ballot title is not misleading.”

He also argued that the definition of “health” was not clear enough for voters and depending on the meaning could “give voters ‘serious ground for reflection,’” according to the letter.

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

Griffin concluded the letter by explaining that AGL should “redesign” the amendment’s title and text before filing again.

ALG told the Daily Caller News Foundation in a prepared statement that they appreciated” Griffin’s “thorough review of and impartial response to the amendment’s language.” The group said that they “will begin work immediately” to update the language.

Arkansas law currently prohibits abortion in all cases, except in the event that a doctor determines it is necessary to save the life of the mother, according to the text. The law went into effect following the Supreme Court’s decision in June 2022 to overturn Roe v. Wade.

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Republished with permission from Daily Caller News Foundation

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