Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed legislation Thursday making Arkansas the seventh state to ban a popular abortion method which pro-life advocates describe as “barbaric”.
Specifically, HB 1032, the “Unborn Child Protection From Dismemberment Act”, outlaws dilation and evacuation (D&E) of the fetus except when the mother’s health is in jeopardy. The law would only hold the aborting doctor liable for prosecution.
D&E was performed 683 times in Arkansas in 2015 out of 3,771 total abortions and is considered by pro-choice advocates to be the safest second trimester abortion surgery available.
Following the bill’s passage in the Arkansas state House and Senate this past week, both the ACLU’s Arkansas chapter and Planned Parenthood Great Plains (PPGP) vowed to challenge the law on constitutional grounds.
“We see HB 1032 for what it is — an attempt to ban safe, legal abortion because of the ideology of a few elected officials under the dome,” said PPGP president and CEO Laura McQuade.
In 2016, four states passed similar bills, including Louisiana and Alabama. Oklahoma and Kansas enacted legislation banning D&E prior to last year, but the laws have been temporarily suspended due to court challenges.
Currently, only Mississippi and West Virginia have active bans on the procedure.
Arkansas state Sen. David Sanders (R-Conway County), who co-sponsored the bill, argued on the Senate floor Thursday that the legislation was “humane” and will “move us to a more compassionate society.”
ACLU of Arkansas executive director Rita Sklar disagrees with that sentiment, countering that the ban would put an “undue burden on a woman’s constitutional right to obtain a second trimester abortion, and I think the legislature knows it and doesn’t care.”
HB 1032 will take effect sometime in July or August, although a nearly guaranteed legal challenge would delay the law’s implementation.
[Reuters] [KSFM 5 News Little Rock] [USA Today] [Photo courtesy Olivier Douliery/Getty Images via Women in the World]