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Ark. Governor Signs Antiabortion-Rights Bill

Ark. Governor Signs Antiabortion-Rights Bill

April 8, 2015 — Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) on Monday signed a bill (Act 1086) that will require physicians to share medically unproven information with women seeking medication abortions, the Washington Post's "Post Nation" reports (Somashekhar, "Post Nation," Washington Post, 4/7).

According to the Washington Times, Arkansas is the second state to approve such a law (Wetzstein, Washington Times, 4/7). Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) signed a similar bill (SB 1318) into law in March (Women's Health Policy Report, 3/31).

According to "Post Nation," both the Arkansas and Arizona measures were based off of model legislation developed by the antiabortion-rights group Americans United for Life ("Post Nation," Washington Post, 4/7).

Law Details

Under the Arkansas law, physicians must tell women seeking medication abortions the medically unproven claim that "it may be possible to reverse the effects" of medication abortion by receiving a dose of progesterone after taking mifepristone. Mifepristone is the first of two drugs taken during a medication abortion (Washington Times, 4/7).

The law would also extend the mandatory delay period before a woman can obtain an abortion from 24 hours to 48 hours. In addition, physicians are required to talk with women about alternatives to abortion, discuss potential health risks and give a probable physical description of the fetus (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/1).

Abortion-Rights Supporters Blast Law, Mull Legal Action

According to "Post Nation," abortion-rights supporters have spoken out against the Arkansas law and other laws that require physicians to tell their patients medically unsound information ("Post Nation," Washington Post, 4/7).

Hayley Smith, associate advocacy and policy counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, said physicians have called the Arkansas measure "inappropriate interference in the exam room" because it requires them to "give information that is not, in fact, medically accurate." Smith added that ACLU is considering legal action against the law.

Similarly, Planned Parenthood said the Arkansas law put "words in doctors' mouths" and failed to determine whether such attempts to "reverse" a medication abortion would harm women's health (Washington Times, 4/7).