Arkansas just banned abortion — with the help of a hate group

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The right-wing group Family Council says it worked closely with the bill's primary sponsor.

On Tuesday, Arkansas Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a ban on nearly all abortions in his state. Opponents of abortion rights are hoping the ban might trigger a challenge to Roe v. Wade, and that the conservative-dominated Supreme Court to outlaw abortion, despite the fact close to 8 in 10 Americans think abortion should be legal, according to Gallup.

The right-wing group Family Council said on its website that it had been "working closely" with the primary sponsor of the bill, Arkansas Republican state Sen. Jason Rapert, to pass the law. 

In February, as the bill was working through the Legislature, Rapert held a press conference alongside representatives from the group to promote it.  Rapert recently described Family Council head Jerry Cox as a "good friend" during an interview between the two men.

Family Council describes itself as "a strong conservative voice at the State Capitol when the Arkansas Legislature is in session." The organization says it reviews "every bill introduced, advise lawmakers, provide committee testimony, and help citizens across the state make their voices heard in the halls of government."

Family Council is a state branch of the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian organization opposed to abortion rights and LGBTQ rights that has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The Center's website contains a long list of anti-LGBTQ statements put out by the Family Research Council over the years, including Robert Knight, director of cultural studies for the organization, saying in 1999, "Gaining access to children has been a long-term goal of the homosexual movement."

On its own website, the Family Research Council directs people to a list of Family Policy Councils, including Arkansas', noting that while the groups are legally independent, they "accomplish at the state level what Family Research Council does at the national level - shape public debate and formulate public policy. FPCs work with state legislators, local government officials, and community leaders to encourage and initiate pro-family policies."

In response to the passage of the law, Planned Parenthood of the Great Plains said, "Today's decision by Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson to sign SB 6 into law goes against what the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld: Every person has a constitutionally protected right to access abortion care, including from trusted medical providers here in Arkansas."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.