Cruel & demeaning

Arkansas to require women to get consent from sexual partners and family before having an abortion

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

In Arkansas, abortion rights groups and lawyers are preparing to challenge four measures passed by the stage legislature that would, among other restrictions, ban a common abortion procedure and require women to obtain consent from their sexual partners or family members before having an abortion.

“With this package of laws, we’re definitely seeing a new, creative and especially cruel attempt by Arkansas to make abortion more difficult, if not impossible for women to access — and to stigmatize and demean them in the meantime,” Hillary Schneller, a staff attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, told NBC News.

Among the new laws is a prohibition on a “safe and medically proven” abortion method known as dilation and evacuation, according to Brigitte Amiri, a senior staff attorney for the ACLU. Since dilation and evacuation is used in nearly all second-semester abortions, Schneller added, the ban “would essentially end access to second-trimester abortions in Arkansas.”

Another of the new laws would require women to get consent from sexual partners on how to dispose of fetal tissue before they can undergo an abortion, according to the lawsuit. Not only would this “require that a physician performing an abortion notify a woman’s sexual partner, or parent if she’s a minor, of their right to participate in the disposition of tissue from an abortion,” Schneller told NBC News, but would also “create incredible delays” before a woman could obtain an abortion.

“Abortion,” Schneller noted, “is a time-sensitive procedure.”

In an interview with Bustle published last week, state Representative Kim Hammer, a Republican who is the bill’s sponsor, defended the requirement by suggesting that since a man is “there at conception” he deserved the right “to be there through the whole process.”

Two other laws would also require doctors who perform abortions on minors to preserve fetal tissue and to obtain additional medical records before performing an abortion — measures that activists say are meant to make the procedure more difficult and time-consuming to undergo. Another law being challenged by Planned Parenthood Great Plains and Little Rock Family Planning services allows for abortion clinics to be shut down if they’re found in violation of any state law — no matter how minor the infraction.

While people worry about abortion rights at the federal level, Amiri noted, legislators at the state level have been determinedly working to effectively outlaw the procedure themselves. “Since 2010,” she explained, “lawmakers have passed over 300 abortion restrictions throughout the country.” According to the Guttmacher Institute, 22 out of 50 states had “extremely hostile” restrictions against abortion as of 2016.

On Thursday, the ACLU and the Center for Reproductive rights will have a hearing for a federal lawsuit against the new laws. The goal, lawyers say, is to prompt an emergency order from a judge to prevent the state from enacting the new abortion restrictions while the lawsuit is considered.

Read the full story at NBC News.

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EDITOR'S NOTE: This article is independent of and separate from any views of The New York Times.

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