Arkansas Passes Controversial Law on Abortion

February 3rd 2017

The Arkansas "Unborn Child Protection From Dismemberment Abortion Act," also known as Arkansas Act 45, is a new anti-abortion law, which was passed in the state that has women's rights activists fuming over a clause that's hidden in the legislation.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed the law into effect on Jan. 26 and there are two major parts in the legislation that's causing outrage among reproductive rights advocates.

1. Women will be prohibited from having dilation and evacuation abortions (D&E) after 14 weeks.

A D&E abortion is the most common type of abortion, The Daily Beast reports, citing statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which states that 95 percent of all second trimester abortions (around the 14 week mark) are done using this method.

keep abortion legalTony Webster/Flickr - flic.kr

"Compared to medical abortion by labor induction, surgical D&E is generally a shorter process performed under deeper anesthesia and is most often an outpatient surgery," Contemporary OB/GYN reports, noting that most women choose the D&E method for these reasons. "D&E involves preparation of the cervix with osmotic dilators or pharmacologic agents to safely achieve dilation adequate for passage of forceps into the uterine cavity to remove the products of conception," according to the publication. 

2. The law will allow family members to step in to block the abortion.

Arkansas Act 45 states that "a person who is the spouse, parent, or legal guardian" can sue the abortion provider for damages or injunctive relief to halt the abortion from taking place. Essentially, this allows a woman's family or husband to take legal action against her for having an abortion by suing, and there are no exceptions, not even in the case of rape or incest.

abortion protest signsFibonacci Blue/Flickr - flic.kr

"There is zero part of me that understands why a rapist or someone who got someone pregnant against their will, maybe incest, would have any right in that decision. I cannot wrap my brain around the fact that there would be anyone who thinks otherwise," said Karen Musick of the Arkansas Abortion Support Network to The Daily Beast

Rachel Zarrell of MTV News posted a Twitter thread about the law that has picked up almost 9,000 re-tweets on the initial post, as well as following it up with a call to action:

Writer Lauren Rankin called the law "unconstitutional":

And activist Jay Franzone called it "terrifying":

Holly Dickson, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, told The Daily Beast that the group plans to file a lawsuit to challenge the law before it's enacted this spring. 

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