- RITA SKLAR: Politicians have "passed laws that defy decency and reason."
Arkansas legislators "matched cruelty with creativity" this year with the passage of new laws to block women from getting legal abortions, the deputy director of the ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Project said Tuesday in announcing the filing of two suits in federal court challenging new laws.
Talcott Camp of the ACLU, who held a press conference along with representatives
Four Arkansas laws are the target of one suit brought by ACLU, the ACLU of Arkansas and the Center for Reproductive Rights: Rep. Andy Mayberry and Sen. David Sanders' so-called "dismemberment bill," which would ban dilation and evacuation, the safest procedure used in
All but the medical records law take effect July 30. The medical records legislation is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2018.
The second lawsuit, filed by Planned Parenthood Great Plains and Little Rock Family Planning Services against Nathaniel Smith, director of the state Department of Health, and the
The ban on dilation and evacuation would effectively make abortion unavailable to women past their 12th week of pregnancy. Where such bans have been challenged, they've been ruled unconstitutional. (The other three laws challenged in the broader suit are "unique to Arkansas," Laura McQuade, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, the umbrella organization for the Arkansas Planned Parenthood clinics.)
Lori Williams, the clinical director at Little Rock Family Planning Services, said, "I thought I'd seen it all" about the numerous efforts by the state legislature to interfere
National press attending the conference were particularly interested in the fetal tissue disposal law, which amends current state law on who makes the decision on the disposition of the remains of family members. The new law says that a woman seeking an abortion can't make the decision on the disposal of fetal tissue alone, but must get the approval of the father of the child, or if she is a minor, her parents. That means if a woman seeks to abort the issue of a rape, she must get the rapist's approval on the disposition of fetal tissue before the abortion can proceed.
The notification law for minors would require that an abortion provider whose patient is a 16-year-old impregnated by her minor boyfriend report the pregnancy to the local police and supply them with the aborted
The medical records law is part of a bill that ostensibly prohibits abortion on the basis of sex selection. If a woman knows the sex of her infant, she is to report it, and once that is done, her provider must request every record made of the woman's entire gynecological and obstetrical care.
In a news release, ACLU Arkansas Director Rita Sklar said, "Instead of protecting women's health, Arkansas politicians have passed laws that defy decency and reason just to make it difficult or impossible for a woman to get an abortion. They've created burdensome bureaucratic hurdles that invade patient privacy."
These groups have sued Arkansas successfully before on efforts to limit not only abortion but family planning and health services provided by Planned Parenthood.
The state can be expected to vigorously contest the suits.*A previous version of this story incorrectly referred to a 48-day waiting period.