Arkansas planning to erect pro-life 'monument to the unborn' on state Capitol grounds to memorialize babies killed by abortions

 April 11, 2024

President Joe Biden has unquestionably aligned himself with the left's abortion rights movement, which means he probably won't like what is occurring at the Republican-controlled Arkansas Capitol.

A special committee is finalizing plans for the design and construction of a new pro-life "monument to the unborn" that will be located near the state's Capitol building in Little Rock, according to the Daily Mail.

The monument, approved by the Republican-led state legislature in 2023, is intended to memorialize the hundreds of thousands of innocent unborn babies killed by abortion between 1973, when the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, and 2022, when abortions were nearly completely banned in Arkansas following the Supreme Court's overturning of Roe with the Dobbs decision.

Final design plan will be selected in May

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Tuesday that the Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission is expected to hold a final vote next month on the design of the new pro-life monument, and will choose between two similar plans presented by a commissioned artist and the Secretary of State.

Both plans incorporate a "living wall" of plants, most likely a low-maintaince perennial variety, but differ somewhat in the exact location and layout.

The secretary's design would make the monument part of a pre-existing cooling tower structure and feature an ivy-covered wall, a seating area, a sidewalk, and shrubbery to disguise a nearby gas meter and other mechanical structures.

The commissioned artist, Lakey Goff, would locate her "living wall" monument design in a green space located between the Arkansas state Capitol and Supreme Court buildings, and it would include a concave-shaped four-panel concrete wall covered with a variety of plants plus a seating area, lighting, and speakers that play the recorded sounds of waterfalls in the state.

A special trust fund authorized by the legislature to receive private donations will cover the initial costs of construction of the pro-life memorial, but maintanence costs over time would fall on state taxpayers, meaning the estimated costs of annual upkeep for the memorial will likely play a sizeable role in which design gets picked by the commission next month.

"Living wall" design deemed the "most tasteful" submission considered by commission

Local NPR affiliate KUAR reported in December that the "living wall" design was selected by the Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission out of nine different submissions that had been received months earlier.

Some of the other proposals included a sculpture of a blindfolded fetus held aloft by a pedestal and base in the form of an umbilical cord and uterus, a concrete "empty tomb" structure, and a wall containing facts about children in the foster care system.

One of the commissioners, Tony Leraris, abstained from voting as he said he found most of the submissions "repulsive," though he conceded that the living wall design was the "most tasteful," and said, "Personally, I just don’t know how you tastefully immortalize an aborted fetus … I just find the whole subject matter almost unspeakable and to think that we’ve got to put a monument up on the Capitol grounds to immortalize this … I just can’t see that this subject matter is something that we need to be doing."

Legislation faced opposition, including from some Republicans

KUAR reported that the new pro-life monument was authorized by the March 2023 passage of Act 310, which was introduced by Republican State Sen. Kim Hammer -- the same legislator who introduced and co-sponsored legislation in 2015 that authorized the construction of a monument to the biblical 10 Commandments on state Capitol grounds.

Though the bill authorizing the "monument to the unborn" was passed in both legislative chambers, it did face bipartisan opposition, according to an ABC News report at the time, with one of those GOP opponents, state Rep. Steve Unger, suggesting the proposed memorial seemed like "gloating" over a victory in the "ongoing culture war" over abortion.

The bill was signed into law without any fanfare by Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and the monument, once the final design is selected and construction eventually begins, will join two other monuments authorized by the legislature on Capitol grounds -- the aforementioned 10 Commandments and another that honors the "Little Rock Nine," the first black students to attend Little Rock's Central High School following court-ordered racial integration.

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