Arkansas governor signs abortion law banning common procedure

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By Steve Barnes | LITTLE ROCK, Ark.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. Arkansas Governor Asa
Hutchinson signed into law on Thursday a bill banning the most
common abortion procedure employed in the second trimester of a
pregnancy, among the most restrictive abortion legislation in
the United States.

The law, which takes effect later this year, prohibits
dilation and evacuation, a practice that pro-choice advocates
say is the safest method of ending a pregnancy but which
supporters of the legislation call “barbaric,” requiring the “dismemberment” of the fetus.

Anti-abortion activists said the bill was their paramount
objective in the current legislative session. With conservative
Republicans controlling both chambers of the General Assembly,
the bill faced little opposition.

Near identical laws have been adopted in Mississippi and
Louisiana. Similar bans in Kansas, Oklahoma and Alabama have
faced legal challenges and have yet to be implemented, according
to the Guttmacher Institute, which tracks abortion legislation.

Opponents of the Arkansas law vowed to fight it in the
courts and predicted it would fail.

“The law puts an undue burden on a woman’s constitutional
right to obtain a second-trimester abortion, and I think the
legislature knows it and doesn’t care,” said Rita Sklar, an
attorney for the Arkansas chapter of the American Civil
Liberties Union.

Hutchinson, a Republican, had said he believed the U.S.
Supreme Court could uphold the law if given the opportunity. He
said evolving medical standards of fetal viability could alter
the traditional definition of trimester.

The Arkansas health department has said that dilation and
extraction was used in 683 of the 3,771 abortions performed in
Arkansas in 2015, the most recent year for which it has records.



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