February 26, 2015 — Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) has signed a measure (SB 53) into law that will require physicians to administer medication abortion drugs in person, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports.
The legislation targets the use of telemedicine in abortion care, a practice that is not currently offered in Arkansas.
The bill is schedule to take effect 90 days after the state Legislature adjourns (Wickline, Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 2/26).
State Sen. Missy Irvin (R) proposed the measure, which will require abortion providers to administer the drugs in person and "make all reasonable efforts" to see a woman who took the drugs within 12 to 18 days for a follow-up. The bill will allow the woman who received the abortion or the man involved in the pregnancy to sue a physician who does not follow the requirements (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/20).
The law will also require the Arkansas State Medical Board to revoke a doctor's license if it finds that he or she performed an abortion in violation of the measure. In addition, the measure states that a penalty "shall not be assessed against the woman upon whom the abortion is performed or attempted to be performed."
Jennifer Dalven, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Reproductive Freedom Project, said in a statement that "it's crystal clear that these laws are motivated by a desire to keep a woman who has decided to have an abortion from getting one." She added, "We all want women to be safe, but these laws aren't about improving care for women. They're designed by politicians, not doctors, to cut off access to safe, legal abortion by any means necessary" (Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 2/26).
Separately, Angie Remington, spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland said, "For years, women in Arkansas have watched as politicians chip away at a woman's right to make her own health care decisions. Now, the governor has signed off on Arkansas legislators' decision to ban an extremely safe medical procedure -- one that isn't even practiced in Arkansas at this time -- in an effort to make sure a women there will never have the option of making a thoughtful decision about what is best for her and her family" (Lyon, Arkansas News, 2/25).
Meanwhile, Arkansas Right to Life applauded Hutchinson for signing the measure, tweeting, "Thank you Gov. Hutchinson, Senator Irvin & Rep. Mayberry ... No webcam abortion in AR!" (Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 2/26).