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Benton County Prosecutor speaks on indicting those who carry out abortions

Prosecutor Nathan Smith sent a letter to Planned Parenthood in Great Plains giving them notice that his office will prosecute anyone who performs abortions.

BENTON COUNTY, ARKANSAS, Ark. — The Benton County Prosecutor sent a letter to Planned Parenthood in Rogers Tuesday, June 28, that his office will be enforcing the state law, making all abortions illegal in Arkansas expect to save a mother’s life.  

“It’s extremely reckless and a violation of your oath of office to simply say I will not enforce a law passed by your legislature because the people of Arkansas have the right through their elected representative to determine public policy,” said Nathan Smith. 

Planned Parenthood Great Plains President and CEO, Emily Wales says they have never provided abortion care at the center that opened in September 2021. She says receiving this letter wasn’t surprising but was frustrating. 

“We are trying to prioritize our patients who are dealing with grief and frustration and trying to figure out how to get care that is still legal in other states, this is what we are dealing with. What we are having to do is take time and stop our focus on patients to respond to a letter that really isn’t based in supporting people,” said Wales. 

Under Act 180 if someone performs an abortion they can be charged with a felony and either spend 10 years in prison and or pay a fine up to $100,000. Smith says women seeking abortions will not be punished just the provider. 

“It is the will of the people of Arkansas to criminalize abortion in all cases expect to save the life of a mother. We will follow the law and we will be enforcing the law and prosecuting anyone who violates it,” he said. 

Wales says at the Rogers clinic they will still provide all care they did before Friday’s supreme court decision. She says their doors will stay open in Arkansas, 

“The prosecutor’s office is designed to be a place of support for victims and it’s concerning to us that instead of focusing on that, we are hearing from the prosecutor about perusing crimes that are not happening,” she said. 

Washington and Sebastian county prosecutors tell 5NEWS they will treat the near abortion ban law like any other case and review it and issue a warrant to charge the person if there is enough evidence. 

RELATED: Peaceful Protest for Reproductive Rights taking place in Bentonville

RELATED: What overturning Roe v. Wade means for Arkansas

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