Women seeking abortions in the state of Arkansas may soon be overruled by their fathers or spouses thanks to Arkansas Act 45, a new law banning dilation and evacuation abortions during the second trimester of pregnancy, the Daily Beast reported. Breaking the law is a Class D felony, punishable by six years in prison or a $10,000 fine.
The act, signed into law by Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Thursday, contains a clause allowing a woman’s spouse, parent or guardian, or health care provider to sue an abortion provider for damages or an injunction, which would prevent the provider from performing future dilation and evacuation procedures.
Despite previous reports, text of the law does not allow family members to block a woman’s dilation and evacuation abortion by filing suit.
Abortion rights activists argue that the legislation circumvents a woman’s autonomy and instead gives the family control.
The legislation essentially blocks most abortions after 14 weeks, as dilation and evacuation procedures account for 95 percent of all second-trimester abortions, according to a CDC study. The Daily Beast reported that the procedure also accounted for more than 18 percent of abortions in Arkansas in 2015. During the procedure, the cervix is dilated and the fetus is surgically removed from the uterus.
According to Karen Musick, co-founder of Arkansas Abortion Support Network, the new law would force women seeking abortions after the first trimester to leave the state.
“The D&E method is the most common method of second-trimester abortion in the United States and in the world,” Planned Parenthood Great Plains president and CEO Laura McQuade told the Daily Beast. “It is the method endorsed by the World Health Organization, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and the American Medical Association.”
Despite this, co-sponsors of the bill describe the procedure (like many other medical and surgical procedures) as “gruesome, barbaric,” and “gross to watch.”
Similar legislation has been passed in Alabama, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and West Virginia, with all but the latter two states the laws temporarily blocked after court challenges. Opponents of the law are likely to challenge Arkansas, too.
With the end of Arkansas’s legislative session expected in the spring, and the law taking effect 90 days after, opponents like the ACLU of Arkansas have a few months to take action and file suit.
“The ACLU has been open in our intent to challenge this if necessary,” ACLU of Arkansas legal director Holly Dickson told the Daily Beast. “I’m sure that’s what we’ll do this time around. Again.”
H/T the Daily Beast
This article has been updated.