by Max Brantley
The bill would ban abortion until the physician has spent an undefined amount of “time and effort” obtaining her complete medical records, potentially causing an indefinite waiting period. These new measures are an effort to force doctors to police the reasons a patient is seeking abortion care, as the bill also criminalizes health care providers who knowingly perform an abortion sought on the basis of the sex of the fetus.
Governor Hutchinson has already signed three other measures restricting a woman’s access to safe, legal abortion this legislative session, including a ban on a safe, proven method of ending a pregnancy in the second trimester.
“Health care providers should never be forced to investigate patients for the reasons behind their personal, private decisions,” said Lourdes Rivera, Senior Vice President, U.S. Programs at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “When a woman has made the decision to end a pregnancy, she needs high-quality health care, not an interrogation.
“Measures of this kind are fueled by harmful and racist stereotypes about women of color. The Center for Reproductive Rights has serious concerns about an abortion ban that will discourage women from getting the health care they need and unfairly targets communities of color. We vow to stand with Arkansas women until their rights are fully respected and protected.”
Like the bills before it, this measure masquerades as an effort to prevent sex discrimination, but is simply another thinly veiled attempt to restrict a woman’s ability to get the health care she needs. In fact, measures of this nature exacerbate discrimination by discouraging women from obtaining reproductive health care, particularly among minority communities that already face substantial barriers to care. Moreover, they target communities of color, particularly Asian Pacific Islander (API) communities, and are fueled by stereotypes and misinformation.Perhaps still more lawsuits in the offing. The Supreme Court has, so far, protected abortion rights up to the time of fetal viability. No legislative-created pretexts to curb that right are allowed. Legal experts have doubts about the constitutionality of this latest wrinkle to restrict women's medical autonomy..
Arkansas actually has one of the poorest track records in the country when it comes to protecting the health of women and their families, with politicians in the state consistently working to restrict a woman’s access to safe, legal abortion. In addition to passing a blatantly unconstitutional abortion ban—which the Supreme Court refused to review in early 2016, thereby ensuring the measure will remain permanently blocked—Arkansas also passed the most anti-choice measures of any state in 2015.