I enjoyed my recent interview with Leslie Peacock about the pro-life legislative efforts during the 88th Arkansas General Assembly. It was an extremely busy and important session especially for pro-life legislation. Leslie did a great job explaining the major bills contained in the Arkansas Right to Life legislative agenda. She was very thorough in her reporting; however, I do want to comment on a few things in her report that I feel your readers should understand.
Arkansas Right to Life has no position on the emergency contraceptive commonly referred to as Plan B. Leslie and I did not discuss it during our interview, if we had she would have been clear on our position. Perhaps she spoke to another source, if so that person should have been identified. There are many who claim to be the voice of the Pro-life movement in Arkansas, but they do not speak for Arkansas Right to Life, the voice of the unborn since 1974, nor our parent organization the National Right to Life Committee formed in 1968.
The article also noted that Arkansas was "one of only 13 states to have made abortion legal prior to the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade in 1973." That is incorrect. When Roe goes, our pre-Jan. 22, 1973, Arkansas law banning abortion except in life-of-the-mother cases will be the law in Arkansas. Ms. Peacock also mentioned an Arkansas law on viability inferring that abortions in Arkansas are only legal "up to the first day of the 26th week of pregnancy or in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother." This is not the case.
Peacock is just like most of the general public who are either misinformed or simply uneducated about the companion case of Doe v. Bolton that was decided with Roe v. Wade on Jan. 22, 1973, that defined "health" of the mother as a compelling factor in abortion after viability citing physical, emotional, psychological and familial indicators legalizing abortion on demand through all nine months of pregnancy for virtually any reason, in Arkansas and every other state in our nation. That is the law of the land and it is the law that Arkansas Right to Life, the oldest and largest pro-life organization, the voice of the pro-life movement in Arkansas, is committed to ending. Our struggle to end abortion won't stop when Roe falls, it will just be beginning.
Arkansas Right to Life
The Arkansas Highway & Transportation Department, that model of efficiency and quality, recently imposed one of the dumbest rules ever, of course with the aid of our state legislature, another august body that, when it finds nothing better to do, just does something, even if it doesn't make sense and hurts private business.
State law 5-67-101 is causing a private company, Creative Outdoor Advertising, to remove pedestrian benches (many near bus and inner city transit stops) from at least 13 Arkansas cities. I have seen these benches, they are off sidewalks and are used regularly at no harm nor danger to anyone. And apparently they are legal to keep there, unless the city has an agreement with the company for businesses to advertise on them.
Randy Ort, the public information coordinator for AHTD (who has probably never had a real job in the private sector in his life), said the benches "obviously provide a service, but we need to have a little more control..."
Ort didn't say what if any issue the benches had created or what safety hazards might have been in play to cause this rule change.
I'll go a step further and say shame on Hot Springs city manager Lance Hudnell and our entire board of directors for not putting their foot down and saying "to hell with the AHTD and the state." These benches not only served pedestrians, but generated money for the city and great advertising for local businesses.
This is a litmus test for me locally in 2012 at the voting booth. Too many people in public office take for granted what the rest of us can't when it doesn't affect them. Incumbents, here we go again; eventually some of you might have to get a real job and work for a living.
Donate time to Pulaski County School District
There's a real simple thing that friends and foes of the Pulaski County Special School District can do to show they care about local schools after U.S. District Judge Brian Miller's deseg decision and the state takeover of the district: Just give!
Give your money, give your time, give what services your business provides or donate the services of employees.
Everyone knows the Sandy Reed Auditorium was hit hard and other parts of North Pulaski High School damaged in the April tornado. But think about this: not even a financially wealthy school district like Cabot, much less PCSSD, would be able to replace everything that is damaged. Sure insurance will cover a lot of the district buildings and property. But what about personal property owned by the teachers or previously supplied by groups like the band boosters?
Church and community groups, including the Jacksonville Educational Foundation, need to show Judge Miller and Arkansas Education Commissioner Tom Kimbrell that the area cares enough to spend our money and time. It might provide the evidence they want to show Jacksonville can support its own district.
A simple donation/loan contract with the state and district to specify that anything that is donated on loan to North Pulaski and other Jacksonville schools would satisfy any concerns about PCSSD misusing your donation by moving it to another school!
So, here's a challenge to all the churches and groups especially those who always complain about the schools. Put your money where your mouth is. Give now.
Ask PCSSD's acting boss, Bobby Lester, what you can do that the district or its builders won't be doing at North Pulaski or other schools. Ask the teachers what they need when the band, choir and drama department resume using the destroyed Sandy Reed Auditorium. Electronic equipment? Props? Perhaps, a few seats without arms or movable arms to replace the extremely narrow seats.
Or a business could donate automated lights in restrooms that come on whenever someone enters — just like at Jacksonville's new library — so that people can see when they enter instead of being in the dark.
If you agree, speak up, get your family, church and other groups involved. And give.