The 92nd session of the Arkansas General Assembly has ended. An American Speaks tracked a little over 25 bills we thought most impacted our communities, religious freedom and the lives of the innocent. We are happy none of the bills we opposed moved forward and, with rare exception, the ones we supported passed.
A Lifeline. We were especially rooting for one piece of legislation in particular as it quietly moved through the Bureau of Legislative Research, Committees, the House and finally the Senate. That is HB1664 The Life Choices (TLC) Lifeline, now Act 1036.
The five goals of the TLC Lifeline program are:
- Encourage healthy childbirth
- Support childbirth as an alternative to abortion
- Promote family formation
- Aid successful parenting
- Increase families economic self sufficiency
This bill paves the way for the Dept. of Health to implement a statewide “one stop” care program of direct services to new and families-to-be of both biological and adoptive parents of children under two. If a pregnant mother or adoptive family calls searching for counseling with decisions or help for any myriad of needs the TLC program walks with them from that time up to just before the child’s second birth day. This give her/her family plenty of time to receive counseling from licensed nurses and social workers and learn all the services available from the many State of Arkansas, Federal and local charitable resources as well as. Modeled after similar programs provided by Human Coalition around the country, it requires a provider to market to all counties in Arkansas, a boon to our rural areas with scarce resources.
This is truly a whole person approach to support an individual for everything from medically accurate advice, a care plan of resources to support each individual , to assistance in applying for state and federal resources (i.e. food, shelter, health care coverage). Even those of us in the business of helping people get confused when we get “out of our lane”. Imagine how frustrating and intimidating it is when you are in a desperate situation. You can read the entire Act here TLC Lifeline Act 1036.
Sadly, we know that some people who contact the Lifeline number and speak with nurses and counselors will still choose abortion. Those participants may continue to receive services for six months after termination of their unborn child. Human Coalition cites 50% of the pregnant women who contact them choose life for their child whether they keep them or decide to offer them to an adoptive family. We know that our lawmakers have worked hard on behalf of our unborn during the Roe v. Wade era. This program is relevant whether abortion is legal or not so, in what we believe will be the inevitable dissolution of that ruling, this program will be more needed than ever.
To see how your State Representative or Senator voted : House votes on TLC Lifeline and Senate votes TLC Lifeline . We are so proud and grateful for each legislator who recognized the good this can do for every district in Arkansas.
The genesis of this Act started in a discussion about other bills in which An American Speaks was invited to participate. Senator Jason Rapert, Senator Bob Ballinger, Representative Mary Bentley and Representative Dan Sullivan discussed the finer points of their good pro-life and freedom of speech bills with their colleagues. That evolved into other possible solutions as a result of a suggestion by Representative Jim Dotson. First year Representative Cindy Crawford of Ft. Smith was tagged to investigate the possibility of creating a bill solution this session.
And she did. Representative Crawford’s expertise and passion from running a women’s health center in Ft. Smith was certainly the key to doing the ground work on the bill. Thank goodness for the experience of co-sponsors Representative Dotson and Senator Bob Ballinger because they performed what we didn’t think could possibly be done so late in the session. These two miracle workers got the frame work of the bill complete and then Rep. Dotson rewrote it to address the concerns of the committee and Dept. of Health. Wow!
Now it is up to those of us involved in the passage to do the hard work of implementation but at least Arkansas families have a Lifeline coming.
Thank you Arkansas 92nd General Assembly, Human Coalition for your feedback and research and praise God, with whom all things are possible.