Two Bills Limiting Abortion Access Pass in Arkansas House
Yesterday, the Arkansas state House approved a bill that would outlaw abortions after twenty weeks of pregnancy without any exception for rape or incest on a vote of 75 to 20. The bill will now move to the Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee for a final decision. The state House also approved a measure prohibiting insurers in the state exchange program created by the Affordable Care Act from providing abortion coverage exception in case of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother.
The sponsor of the 20 week ban, state Rep. Andy Mayberry (R-Hensley), told the Associated Press that a commitment to the preservation of potential new life is essential in a lawmaker: "If our constituents cannot trust us, their elected representatives, to defend the most basic and essential of human rights, that of life, how can they possibly trust us to have the wisdom and discernment to make appropriate decisions regarding all of the other daily issues that face us?"
A Democratic representative of the House, state Rep. Greg Leding (D-Fayetteville), argues that the bill's failure to address victims of rape and incest is a serious oversight: "What if [a] woman is a 12-year-old girl and she's raped by a family member or friend and she's too afraid to speak or at that young age is simply unaware that she's pregnant?" Rep. Leding opines that the twenty-week deadline is not reasonable in more disturbing cases of accidental pregnancies and that the bill has little concern for the health and safety of women.
According to Reuters, seven states have outlawed abortion after the twenty-week mark. The law is being challenged in Arizona and Georgia on the grounds that it is unconstitutional.
The second measure restricting insurance coverage for abortion under a state exchange program could limit abortion access for many women, especially women of lower-income, who would be forced to pay for the procedure out of pocket. The author of the bill, state Rep. Butch Wilkins (D-Bono), says the bill would prevent taxpayers who are morally opposed to abortion from supporting the procedure financially. Opponents say that the Hyde amendment already prevents taxpayer money from funding abortion care, thus making the bill redundant.
The decision to pass the two bills happens against the backdrop of other anti-choice legislation in Arkansas. Earlier in the month, the Arkansas state Senate passed the Human Heartbeat Protection Act in a 28 to 6 decision. This act would require women who are seeking to terminate their pregnancies to undergo a vaginal ultrasound. If the probe is able to detect a fetal heartbeat, the woman would not be allowed to undergo an abortion on the grounds that a fetus with a heartbeat is a human being.
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .
10/30/2014 UPS Switches Pregnant Worker Policy Ahead of Supreme Court Case - The United Parcel Service (UPS) is changing its policy on light duty assignments for pregnant workers, even though the company will stand by its refusal to extend accommodations to a former employee in an upcoming Supreme Court case.
UPS announced on Monday in a memo to employees, and in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court, that the company will begin offering temporary, light-duty positions to pregnant workers on January 1, 2015. . . .
10/30/2014 North Dakota Medical Students Speak Out Against Measure 1 - Medical students at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences are asking North Dakotans to vote no on Measure 1, a personhood measure on the state ballot this fall.
The students issued published a letter in the Grand Forks Herald stating that they opposed Measure 1 in part because they are against "the government's taking control of the personal health care decisions of its citizens." Nearly 60 UND School of Medicine students signed the letter, citing concerns over the "very broad and ambiguous language" used in the proposed amendment, which has no regard for serious and life-threatening medical situations such as ectopic pregnancies.
Measure 1 would change the North Dakota state constitution to create an "inalienable right to life" for humans "at any stage of development" - including the moment of fertilization and conception. . . .