FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A Washington County Quorum Court committee passed a resolution to make the county a “pro-life county.” The resolution will now go before the full quorum court.
The resolution has no legal bearing. However, pro-choice and anti-abortion proponents came out to oppose the resolution. A pre-meeting protest happened outside the courthouse.
Patrick Deakins (R) is the Justice of the Peace who wrote the resolution. He said he was influenced by a similar resolution passed by Springdale. Changing discussions in the Biden administration caused Deakins to write the resolution, he said.
“That’s why I want to have a clear voice and proclaim this is the values of the people I represent and Washington County as a whole,” Deakins said.
Deakins said he thinks the national dialogue around abortion has changed, and he thought he should’ve written the resolution earlier before the Biden administration took over.
“We’ve seen national leaders in the last several weeks being asked if a 15-year-old baby in the womb is a human, and they’ve dodged the question of attesting to the fact that’s a human being,” Deakins said. “That’s really bothered me.”
During the meeting, several people were escorted out by sheriff’s deputies after JP Sam Duncan (R) declared anyone who disrupted proceedings would be removed. The quorum courtroom erupted with emotion multiple times, including when JP Eva Madison (D), who’s not on the committee, tried to speak before public comment and was denied.
Toby Klein, a concerned community member, said she thinks the resolution sends the wrong message to women.
“It sends a pretty clear message that bodily autonomy is not welcome in this county,” Klein said. “We’re not really respecting that.”
The full quorum court will review the resolution July 15.