National Partnership for Women & Families

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Ark. lawmakers propose ban on medically proven method of abortion care

Arkansas lawmakers on Monday filed a measure (HB 1032) that would ban a medically proven method of abortion care, 5 News reports (Sitek, 5 News, 12/5).

The bill is among several proposals that abortion-rights opponents in the state Legislature have planned for the upcoming session.

Background

The push in Arkansas reflects a wider effort among abortion-rights opponents nationwide to impose additional restrictions on abortion care following the elections last month.

During his campaign, President-elect Donald Trump pledged to defund Planned Parenthood and appoint antiabortion-rights justices to the Supreme Court in an effort to overturn Roe v. Wade. In addition, Trump said he would repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (PL 111-148), under which almost all insurance plans are required to cover all birth control approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

In addition to the presidency, conservative lawmakers won the majority of seats in the House and Senate, two-thirds of state governorships and many state legislative races. In Arkansas specifically, conservative lawmakers won the majority of seats in the state Legislature, including most of the seats on House and Senate committees expected to consider abortion restrictions when they are filed (Women's Health Policy Report, 12/1).

Bill details

The proposed bill would ban a medically proven method of abortion care with only the exception of preventing serious health risk to the woman. It does not include exceptions for rape or incest. According to 5 News, the bill would penalize only an abortion provider who offers the method of abortion care, not a woman who seeks such care.

Lauren McQuade -- president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains (PPGP), which runs clinics in Arkansas -- called the bill "an ideological attack designed to shame and stigmatize safe and legal abortion." Noting that the ban is "medically unnecessary and scientifically baseless," McQuade added that courts "across the country have found this ban unconstitutional, including in neighboring states like Kansas and Oklahoma, and Arkansas legislators should know better than to spend taxpayer money defending a law they know is unconstitutional."

McQuade said PPGP "will fight all attempts by politicians to intervene in private medical decisions where patients believe only licensed medical providers should be advising them" (5 News, 12/5).