A new Arkansas law, which was signed by by Governor Asa Hutchinson on Thursday, January 26, allows husbands and family members to block an abortion by suing the abortion provider. It also makes the type of procedure used in 95 percent of second trimesters a felony and does not provide exceptions for incest or rape.
Arkansas Act 45 essentially prevents a woman from having an abortion after 14 weeks by criminalizing the safest (and most common) procedure, which is a dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortion. There have been attempts from six other states to ban D&E abortions, but all are currently blocked by temporary legal challenges. The lack of exceptions for rape or incest means that the fetus’s father could potentially sue, even in cases of spousal rape or incest, according to abortion rights activists.
In response to Arkansas Act 45, Amanda Allen, senior state legislative counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights, made this statement:
“It’s simply shameful that politicians in Arkansas spent valuable time and resources on fast tracking a cruel and unconstitutional ban on a safe method of ending a pregnancy in the second trimester. When challenged in court, these bans do not pass constitutional muster, yet politicians continue to advance them to prove their anti-abortion bona fides — at the expense of women and their health.”
However, both Elite Daily and The Daily Beast noted that similar laws have faced legal challenges in the past. In 1992, Planned Parenthood v. Casey addressed the issue of spousal notification. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled it unconstitutional, saying that it put an “undue burden” on women.
It is likely that Arkansas Act 45 will be struck down using the “undue burden” test, which happened to a similar 2016 Texas law. Still, we think it’s unbelievable that this law could even be signed.