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Arkansas House Restricts 2nd Trimester Abortion Procedure

2 min read

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas would become the third state in the nation to ban a common second trimester abortion procedure under a measure approved by the House on Monday, a move opponents blasted as unconstitutional.

The majority-Republican House voted 78-10 to ban a procedure known dilation and evacuation, or “D&E,” a second trimester procedure that abortion supporters contend is the safest and most common. The measure now heads to the majority GOP Senate, and Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson has said he supports the prohibition.

“This is a very gruesome, barbaric procedure. It is one that no civilized society should embrace and I would hope that we would say we’re not going to do it,” Republican Rep. Andy Mayberry told lawmakers before the vote. Mayberry is the president of Arkansas Right to Life, which calls the procedure “dismemberment abortion” and considers the ban its top legislative priority this year.

Mississippi and West Virginia have similar bans in effect. Similar prohibitions are on hold amid court challenges in other states. The state Department of Health said that in 2015, 683 of the 3,771 abortions performed in Arkansas were performed through D&E.

“Once again, the Arkansas Legislature is attempting to practice medicine without a license,” Laura McQuade, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes. “Efforts to ban the most common form of second trimester abortion have been ruled unconstitutional across this region and have led to costly court battles.”

The vote came a day after Hutchinson told abortion opponents that he would sign the legislation into law if it reached his desk.

“I have read the bill and it provides safeguards that are important, including an exception for circumstances that put the health of the mother in serious risk, and it assures that there is no penalty on the mother,” the governor said in a statement Monday.

The measure is among several new restrictions abortion opponents are expected to seek in the Legislature after Republicans expanded their majorities in the House and Senate. Other bills that have been proposed include legislation requiring doctors to provide care to an infant born in a failed abortion attempt.

In 2015, Arkansas lawmakers approved several abortion restrictions that included a ban on doctors prescribing pregnancy-terminating pills through telemedicine and a prohibition on state funds going to abortion providers. The measure restricting how the pill is administered and Hutchinson’s attempt to cut off Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood were blocked by a federal judge.

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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