Groups Band Together to Challenge Abortion Restrictions in Arkansas

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of Arkansas and the Center for Reproductive Rights have filed a lawsuit on behalf of Arkansas abortion providers in an effort to challenge four abortion restrictions scheduled to go into effect this summer and next winter which were passed by the state’s GOP-held legislature.

Molly Adams

“Arkansas politicians have devised new and cruel ways to rob women of their right to safe and legal abortion this year—and we’re fighting back,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “From essentially banning abortion in the second trimester to violating women’s privacy, these measures represent a new low. The Supreme Court made clear one year ago in Whole Woman’s Health that politicians can’t stand between women and their constitutional rights. The Center for Reproductive Rights will continue to use the full force of the law to ensure these rights are protected and respected for all women.”

HB 1032, scheduled to go into effect July 30, bans the safe and common dilation and evacuation procedure often used for second-trimester abortions. This restriction would thusly effectively ban second trimester abortions.

HB 1566, scheduled to go into effect July 30, imposes requirements on fetal tissue disposal, likely in response to deceitful videos that claimed Planned Parenthood trafficked in the sale of such tissue produced by anti-abortion extremists. But HB 1566 would not only enforce the requirement that dead fetuses be disposed of in accordance with the Arkansas Final Disposition Rights Act of 2009—it may also be interpreted to bar medication abortion and miscarriage care using medical abortion methods.

HB 2024, scheduled to go into effect July 30, targets patients between 14- and 16-years-old. Instead of abortion care being granted to these patients as their constitutional right, their ability to receive care would pend on “the disclosure of private medical information to local police and preservation of fetal tissue as ‘evidence.'” The implication here is that the sexual conduct of these patients is the result of criminal conduct; in reality, it has been shown that most patients do not claim abusive or illegal sexual conduct.

HB 1434, scheduled to go into effect January 1 of 2018, requires physicians to spend the time that could otherwise be spent providing vital care to their patients trying to obtain and search through the medical records of a patient’s “entire pregnancy history” before providing them with abortion care. As abortion is clearly a time-sensitive matter, the delays resulting from this provision could end up taking away a patient’s opportunity to receive an abortion in the first place.

“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,” Rita Sklar, executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas, said in a statement. “They’ve created burdensome bureaucratic hurdles that invade patient privacy.”

“Arkansas politicians have passed extreme abortion bans that put their political agenda ahead of women’s health,” Talcott Camp, deputy director of the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project, added. “No more. We’re fighting back.”




Ciarra Davison is a former Ms. Editorial Intern who graduated from UCLA, where she studied English and wrote for the Politics section of FEM Newsmagazine. After a year and a half of traveling and working throughout Europe, Central and South America, she now lives in Washington, D.C., where she reports on the ground for Ms. She works to bring underrepresented stories to light, and in her spare time, enjoys hiking towards waterfalls and dancing while cooking.