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story.lead_photo.caption Abortion rights protestors gather to protest the constitutionality of recently passed Arkansas laws restricting abortions Saturday afternoon at the State Capitol in Little Rock. ( Stephen B. Thornton)

Hundreds stood in front of the state Capitol steps Saturday afternoon to protest for women's rights and against recent bills passed through the Arkansas Legislature.

Organizers of the "Protest at the Arkansas Capitol" began an event on Facebook to rally residents to attend. Before the event, more than 1,000 people indicated they would attend.

The protest was aimed at abortion bills that have passed through the Arkansas Legislature and bills under consideration that would cut funding to Planned Parenthood.

Organizers invited speakers to come, and also had open microphone sessions in between keynote speakers.

Arkansas ACLU Executive Director Rita Sklar was the first speaker to address the protestors.

"I'm happy to stand here today to represent the 4,000 members of the ACLU of Arkansas, and join our voices with yours," Sklar told the crowd. "And say to the lawmakers of Arkansas, 'enough is enough.'"

The ACLU has pledged to fight the abortion legislation, in particular Sen. Jason Rapert's, R-Bigelow, 12-week abortion ban bill, which was one of the most restrictive pieces of abortion legislation to be passed in the nation. Sklar reiterated the ACLU's plans to the large crowd of supporters.

"We are going to sue the state and block the most extreme abortion ban in the country, and we will win," Sklar said.

Niki De Soto, a Salem resident, said it was important for Arkansas lawmakers to realize women are able to make their own decisions.

"We're adults," Soto said. "We know what we're doing, we can choose for ourselves. There's no reason why legislators should legislate what I can do with my body or what anybody else can do with their body."

Organizers passed out information about the bills and had voter registration forms for those in the crowd.

Read more in Sunday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Hundreds protest for women's rights at state Capitol

Hundreds gathered Saturday afternoon at the state Capitol to protest for women's rights and against recent bills passed through the Arkansas Legislature. (By Lee Hogan)
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Archived Comments

  • LesName
    March 23, 2013 at 8:15 p.m.

    A person should have the right to make medical decisions about themselves until it takes away from the rights of others.Abortion denies the unborn the right to live. The bills are not taking away the opportunity for abortion, they are limiting the time frame for which one can be done. If a person can't decide in twelve or twenty weeks what they want to do then they are acting irresponsible.

  • Janet0116
    March 23, 2013 at 9:31 p.m.

    Do you know how many abortions were done after the 20 week mark in Arkansas in 2011? 2. TWO. Both were because of severe fetal anomoly and/or health risk to the mother. Do you know the 20 week ban does not take into consideration fetal anomolies and health of the mother? The 12 week ban only mentions *fatal* fetal anomolies and also does not consider the health of the mother. They are both so poorly written that they will be overturned if they ever make it to the Supreme Court. Abortion is *already* restricted. The time frame is *already* limited. Women cannot legally abort a viable fetus. These personal, hard, heartbreaking decisions are PRIVATE and should be dealt with solely with the people having to endure them. If people are truly concerned with lessoning the amount of abortions, how about we address the cause of unwanted pregnancies in the first place? That would be true sex education instead of these nonsense abstinance only programs and having cheap, easy, access to birth control. Instead, GOP seems to want to restrict birth control and stick their heads in the sand regarding sex ed. Truly illogical and quite cruel.

  • cdawg
    March 23, 2013 at 9:44 p.m.

    Wonderful commentary Janet01. Politicians should not be the ones making healthcare decisions for any woman. It is not "irresponsible" for an expectant mother to save her own
    life or to reduce the grief from a fetus born without any chance of surviving.

  • Morebeer
    March 23, 2013 at 10:13 p.m.

    I see the potential for a start-up company that could contract with the state. All women of child-bearing age must register their menstrual cycle so that should they try to exercise their right to an abortion and after Jason Rapert has checked them over with an ultrasound wand, a bureaucrat can calculate the scheduled abortion against my menstrual-cycle database. I can foresee other valuable marketing uses for this data. Maybe kiosks in men's restrooms in bars, so patrons can check where in her cycle is the gal they've been chatting up at the bar, for example.

  • Jesuswillsave
    March 23, 2013 at 10:18 p.m.

    Hard to believe we have so meany people that think it is OK to kill a baby. We are becoming uncivilized.

  • Morebeer
    March 23, 2013 at 11:38 p.m.

    I suppose it makes me a meany to say that since miscarriages (spontaneous abortion is the medical term) occur in up to 25% of pregnancies, Jesus is responsible for a lot of abortions.

  • Reason
    March 23, 2013 at 11:45 p.m.

    If life begins at conception, then why do you support killing "babies" up to 12 or 20 weeks?
    Do these "babies" go to heaven? Or does God not want them, either?
    Are these unwanted "babies" in better hands on earth? Or in the hands of God?
    What do you believe?

  • ericcamp
    March 24, 2013 at 1:25 a.m.

    An hour long video of the event is now available on youtube I'd include the link, but this site I help pay for restricts me from doin so. Use relivant keywords to find it.

  • 23cal
    March 24, 2013 at 7:06 a.m.

    I'll believe a 20 week old fetus is a baby when we get to claim it as a dependent on our tax return, it gets listed on the family tree, and a huge expensive funeral is held for it.

  • Guzzler
    March 24, 2013 at 7:21 a.m.

    It is simply a woman's right to have this choice and it should remain that way. The bible whores twist it their way to render guilt which is just as much of a sin as anything else we do here on earth