LITTLE ROCK An Arkansas lawmaker proposing to ban most abortions in the state says he wasn’t referring to race when he told an audience in 2011 that he didn’t want “minorities to run roughshod” over their beliefs.
Republican state Sen. Jason Rapert of Conway on Monday defended the remarks that he made at a Tea Party rally in front of the Capitol and said footage of the speech was being selectively used to portray him as racially biased.
The Nation first reported Rapert’s comments Friday.
In the speech, Rapert says: “We’re going to try to take this country back for conservatism, and we’re not going to allow minorities to run roughshod over what you people believe in.”
Rapert told reporters that he wasn’t referring to racial minorities, and noted he had earlier used the term “minority interests” earlier in the speech when criticizing a state Supreme Court decision that struck down a voter-initiated act that banned unmarried couples from adopting or fostering children.
“I was talking about minority political interests, as you do with the majority opinion or the minority opinion,” Rapert said.
Rapert is the chief sponsor of legislation that would ban most abortions if a fetal heartbeat is detected, a move that would prohibit the procedure as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.
The Senate last week approved the measure, and it’s now pending before a House committee.