I am thrilled to announce that Arkansas is the most pro-life state in America for the second year in a row! Americans United for Life ranks each state based on state laws protecting those across the human right to life spectrum—the unborn, the elderly, the disabled, and the terminally ill. AUL’s “Life List” honors those states who have made great progress in advancing the human right to life and urges every state to do more.

Arkansas earned its first-place ranking after enacting an impressive 16 life-affirming laws over the course of the 2021 state legislative session. Arkansas is joined by Louisiana, Arizona, Oklahoma, and Indiana in the top five.

So far this year, 22 states have enacted at least 85 pro-life laws, and there are some big jumps on this year’s Life List. Texas jumped eight spots to #12 after enacting chemical abortion protections and the first Heartbeat Law to take effect. Montana flipped its governor’s mansion in 2020 and moved eleven spots up the Life List to #32 by enacting six impactful laws including born-alive protections, chemical abortion reporting and safety laws, and a gestational age limit on abortion based on the baby’s ability to feel pain.

“This is incredible news,” said Jerry Cox, Family Council President. “Arkansans should be proud of their state legislators for enacting the best laws in the nation when it comes to protecting innocent human life. That’s something to celebrate.”

Americans United for Life’s “Life List” state ranking is based on criteria that scores the states’ protection of life from conception to natural death. This is sorted into the categories of abortion, legal recognition of unborn children, bioethics (such as destructive embryo research), assisted suicide and patient care, and healthcare rights of conscience. In addition, each state is awarded points for cultural and political landscape and momentum, which measures political outlook and the frequency the state legislature effectuates pro-life laws, respectively. States receive credit for enforceable laws only and not laws that were enacted but enjoined by the courts or otherwise deemed unenforceable.

Cox said that making Arkansas the most pro-life state in America has taken years of work by many different people.

“A little over a decade ago Family Council joined with others in setting out to make Arkansas the most pro-life state in America. By working together, we have done that. Becoming the most pro-life state in America didn’t happen overnight. It was the result of many years of hard work. Keeping Arkansas the most pro-life state will take constant effort. Arkansas Right to Life has been fighting abortion for over forty years, and Family Council has been at it for more than thirty years. Arkansas’ General Assembly has passed at least forty-seven good, pro-life laws since 2011. Governor Hutchinson has signed into law every pro-life bill that came across his desk, and Attorney General Rutledge has defended those laws in court. Ministers, churches, pregnancy resource centers, and everyday Arkansans all have worked very hard to make Arkansas the pro-life state that it is today.”

Cox pointed out that abortion has declined significantly in Arkansas, and most Arkansans do not support abortion on demand.

“It’s great to be the nation’s most pro-life state, but it’s even more important that abortion is declining. Abortion in Arkansas has plummeted to levels we haven’t seen since the 1970s. Teen abortion in Arkansas sits at record lows today. Public opinion polling shows the overwhelming majority of Arkansans believe abortion ought to be either completely illegal or legal only in certain circumstances. More than forty pregnancy resource centers around the state help women and girls with unplanned pregnancies. So far this year eighteen counties and cities across Arkansas have passed resolutions affirming they are pro-life. It isn’t just that lawmakers are passing anti-abortion laws. Arkansans themselves are incredibly pro-life.”

Cox said Arkansas has proven to be a leader in the effort to end abortion. “As a pro-life leader, Arkansas has done vital work, but we can’t stand still.  Court cases are in play right now in Arkansas and elsewhere that could dismantle pro-abortion rulings like Roe v. Wade. Arkansas has an important role in that process and in showing other states how they can build a culture of life.”Cox said even though Arkansas is the most pro-life state in the country, pro-life efforts are far from over. “Being the most pro-life state in America two years in a row is something Arkansans can be proud of. It shows Arkansas is committed to defending innocent human life. But there is still a lot of work to do. The ultimate goal is to end abortion and protect every innocent life from conception until natural death. We look forward to continuing to defend the sanctity of human life and working to end abortion in Arkansas.”

As Americans United for Life gears up for state legislative sessions throughout 2022, we are encouraging state lawmakers concerned with the human right to life to be bold and courageous. Now is the time to advance law and policy that protects the whole human person, across the spectrum of life issues.

Congratulations to Arkansas and every state which made a difference this year in the fight for life. With a major U.S. Supreme Court case and midterm elections on the horizon, we look forward to a high energy new year.