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story.lead_photo.caption People take part in the March for Life on the grounds of the state Capitol in Little Rock on Sunday. - Photo by Mitchell PE Masilun

As anti-abortion signs dotted the crowd outside the state Capitol on Sunday afternoon, abortion opponents celebrated political and legal wins and reaffirmed their opposition to a landmark Supreme Court case that legalized abortion.

Hundreds of abortion opponents crowded in front of the Capitol building Sunday for the 40th annual March for Life, an event that took place on the eve of the 45th anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. The decision from the nation's top court affirmed the constitutional right to an abortion.

Abortion opponents came from around central Arkansas to Little Rock, where they heard speeches from high-ranking state Republicans and songs from a children's choir.

"We are not to decide who lives and dies," said Anne Dierks, an abortion opponent who traveled from Hot Springs Village for the event.

Attendees carried a wide array of signs and posters during the event, which was sponsored by Arkansas Right to Life.

"I am pro-life," one sign read. "Unborn lives matter," read another. "Choose life," said a yellow sign in black text.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson delivered a brief address and stressed the state's anti-abortion efforts. Americans United for Life has ranked Arkansas as one of the top anti-abortion states in the nation.

"We have achieved that because we believe in the life of the unborn," Hutchinson said, garnering applause from the crowd. "But there is always more work to do."

Hutchinson said he was pleased to cut Medicaid funding from the nonprofit health care provider Planned Parenthood, and reported that he has signed more than five pieces of anti-abortion legislation in the first three years of his administration.

In last year's legislative session, Arkansas lawmakers passed Act 45, which bans a common second-trimester procedure. Opponents of the law say the procedure is the safest method available at outpatient facilities, while supporters of the law have called the procedure "barbaric."

The law is being challenged in federal court.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge delivered the keynote speech at the event and said it was her honor to fight legal battles for the unborn.

"One day, our country will find its way back to protecting the sanctity of life for the unborn," she said.

The Republican leader cited multiple legal wins and said she would continue her work.

Last week, a Roman Catholic bishop announced he would not participate in the event due to Rutledge being picked as keynote speaker, saying in an open letter that she had "worked tirelessly to secure the execution of four criminals who posed no further threat to society."

Bishop Anthony Taylor wrote that while Rutledge has "good anti-abortion credentials," she was not an appropriate March for Life speaker.

"The Church teaches a consistent ethic of life in which human life and human dignity must be protected from the first moment of conception to natural death and every stage in between," his letter read.

As the crowd dispersed from the Capitol grounds, Camille Richoux stood with a sign criticizing Rutledge.

The sign, in part, read: "The death penalty is pro-death, racist, & inhumane." Richoux said it was hypocritical for Rutledge to support the March for Life, given her support of the state's execution of death-row inmates.

Richoux was also an organizer for the eighth annual Rally for Reproductive Justice, which took place in front of the Capitol building on Saturday.

The Arkansas Coalition for Reproductive Justice, which put on the event, defines "reproductive justice" as the right to choose whether and when to have children, and the right to parent those children in safe, healthy environments.

At Sunday's March for Life event, state Rep. Andy Mayberry, R-Hensley, said multiple members of the state's congressional delegation had planned to attend the event but had gotten tied up in Washington.

Seconds later, he read a letter from U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Ark., who wrote that he was in Washington working to end the shutdown of the federal government.

Rose Mimms, executive director of Arkansas Right to Life, said she was pleased with the turnout and mentioned that many of their supporters had abortions before becoming abortion opponents.

One of those women is Elizabeth Beckwith, who said it was her fourth time attending the march in Little Rock.

Beckwith said she had an abortion more than three decades ago, and felt shame and guilt afterward. Now, Beckwith said she can use her experience to show younger women they have many options besides abortion.

"I also know I can use it for God's good," she said.

Information for this article was contributed by Emma Pettit of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Metro on 01/22/2018

Print Headline: Abortion foes rally at Capitol; hundreds of people denounce Roe v. Wade 45 years later

Comments

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  • WGT
    January 22, 2018 at 6:52 a.m.

    The Arkansas AG foamed at the mouth in 2017 to have prisoners executed.

  • hah406
    January 22, 2018 at 7:50 a.m.

    If you are pro-life, good for you, but be consistent. I am not a fan of abortion, but consider it a matter between a woman, her physician, and whatever God she may or may not believe in. I much prefer the Pope's position, that we have no business deciding who lives and who dies, be it an unborn child or a prisoner.

  • BibleBeltFreeThinker
    January 22, 2018 at 8:07 a.m.

    The hypocrisy is overwhelming - a March for Life rally attended by staunch pro-death penalty "christians." A flag-waiving lot which values FREEDOM above all else, bemoaning theocracies like Iran and Saudi Arabia, but who are themselves steering our country away from freedom and toward a theocracy by wishing to overturn Roe v Wade. Only the woefully ignorant or the willfully duplicitous could take such positions. Sadly these are the positions held by roughly half of our political leaders - the ones with a scarlet letter “R” affixed to their names.

  • Delta123
    January 22, 2018 at 8:21 a.m.

    If you don't know the difference between an innocent child in the womb and a convicted murderer then I suppose there's not much use in continuing to debate this issue.

  • BoudinMan
    January 22, 2018 at 8:28 a.m.

    A fetus in the womb is not a child. Please keep your religious beliefs out of women's reproductive decisions.

  • GeneralMac
    January 22, 2018 at 9:42 a.m.

    I'm looking at this photo and contrasting it to yesterday's photo of pro-abortion marchers.

    I don't see an older woman laughing hysterically over the abortion issue.
    (yesterday I did )

    I don't see a man with 2 fingers in his mouth trying to whistle.
    ( yesterday I did )

    No freak show picture today.
    Yesterday there was.

  • GeneralMac
    January 22, 2018 at 9:52 a.m.

    ( 7th paragrah)........Arkansas ranked as one of the top anti abortion states in the nation.

    Makes me proud to be an Arkansan transplant from a liberal state.

  • Delta123
    January 22, 2018 at 9:56 a.m.

    Not a religious belief on my part. A fact is a fact. It appears that some here think those in favor of capital punishment but opposed to abortion are hypocrites. With that said, let me ask a question. If capital punishment was banned, would you then be in favor of banning abortion as well?

  • GeneralMac
    January 22, 2018 at 10:01 a.m.

    I referred to those executed as being convicted murderers and got flagged and told to "watch your mouth".

    ???????????????

  • GeneralMac
    January 22, 2018 at 10:20 a.m.

    BoudinMan says..........." a fetus in the womb is not a child"

    What if the entire head is out of the mother and a scissors is thrust into the base of the skull to kill it ?

    That barbaric procedure was known as partial birth abortion.
    The United States Supreme Court upheld the ban on that barbaric, gruesome procedure and every Democrat campaigning for president at the time voiced their strong displeasure with the Supreme Court.

    Yes, Barack HUSSEIN Obama also .

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by The Associated Press
by Compiled by Democrat-Gazette staff from wire reports
by Compiled by Democrat-Gazette staff from wire reports
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