ARKANSAS, USA — A legislative organization led by an Arkansas senator is looking at legislation that could be used as a model for any state legislator to introduce. The lawmaker wants to prevent people from trafficking women across state lines in order to make money off abortions.
Senator Jason Rapert who is a republican representing Conway is also the president of the National Association of Christian Lawmakers. They are working on legislation across the county that would go after what he calls woke corporations that are trying to spend money creating what he calls the abortion tourism industry.
“We are not trying to prevent women from being able to cross state lines for healthcare, that’s fine. We are also not targeting or criminalizing women at all. What we are doing is going after people who are trafficking individuals for the purpose of an abortion,” said Rapert.
Rapert says we have laws that prevent people from taking a minor across state lines and to prevent human trafficking. He says they are looking at this bill to be a Texas-style civil cause of action that would give individuals the ability to sue someone for aiding and abetting someone to get an abortion.
“I have been contacted by people all over the country that want to ensure that we stop these corporations from using shareholder funds illegally. Shareholder funds are not meant to be used to pay for abortion trafficking. In fact, it’s pretty sinister in my opinion,” Rapert said.
Senator Greg Leding is a democrat who represents Fayetteville. He says trying to penalize anyone who is trying to cross state lines to get healthcare is outrageous and insulting.
“I think companies that have stepped up to say that they will pay for expenses for their employees to travel to get the healthcare they need is admirable and it’s up to those companies. I don’t think they would do it if it wasn’t in the interest of their shareholders,” he said.
Leding says referring to people driving across state lines to get an abortion as trafficking is a disservice to the cause to fight actual human trafficking and to conflate these two issues is insulting.
“I think legislation like this is horribly reckless and again it should be chilling because if they are willing to do this, what else are they willing to do this, what else are they willing to do and I don’t want to sound alarmist but until lawmakers face electoral consequences for advancing dangerous ideas like these I think they are going to try. And so, I would just hope that everybody is paying attention and not dismiss some crazy idea because it’s very likely that a lawmaker somewhere will try it,” said Leding.
There have been talks of a special session happening this summer but if the governor does not call one, this bill could not be introduced until the next legislative session in January.
We reached out to Planned Parenthood Great Plains about the issue. 5News received this statement from President and CEO, Emily Wales she says in part…
“As expert providers of care to people who have been victims of sexual violence, we know the right thing to do is to listen to our patients and prioritize their needs in a time of crisis. Senator Rapert seems to conflate what it means to be an individual empowered to make their own health care decisions, with someone whose power has been taken away by an abuser. Instead of a play for cheap headlines, we suggest Senator Rapert take time to listen to Arkansans who have survived sexual assault and trafficking. A government shouldn’t dictate where individuals can travel, what care people can receive, or what personal decisions are best for those they claim to serve,” she said.
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