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Law Would Give Arkansas One of Country’s Longest Abortion Wait Times

2 min read

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas would have one of the longest waiting periods in the nation before a woman could have an abortion under legislation given final approval Monday, which also changes the information a woman must be given before undergoing the procedure.

The bill approved by the Senate on a 26-4 vote would increase the amount of time between the in-person meeting and the procedure from 24 hours to 48 hours. It would also change the law to require that the first consultation be in-person, meaning a requirement of at least two trips to a health care facility for a woman. Doctors would be required to discuss alternatives, health risks and the probable physical description of the fetus.

Republican Sen. Jim Hendren, who presented the proposal, defended it after a Democratic lawmaker called it “draconian.”

“I would call this a very serious decision, and obviously the policy here is with a decision of that magnitude the woman is fully aware and has time to think about it,” Hendren said.

Arkansas would join Alabama as the second state to require a two-day wait, according to the nonprofit Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights. Only three states – Missouri, South Dakota and Utah – have a longer waiting period at 72 hours.

“This is misogyny to me at its worst,” said Democratic Sen. Linda Chesterfield, who voted against the measure.

The measure sharply divided the 11 Senate Democrats, with four voting for the bill, four against and three not voting.

The measure is the latest in a growing list of abortion restrictions that have easily won support in the state after Republicans expanded their majority in the Legislature and won the governor’s office in the November election.

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson has signed into law a measure banning the use of telemedicine to administer the abortion pill, and another bill requiring doctors to follow Food and Drug Administration protocols for the drug. Lawmakers last week sent him a bill banning public funds to abortion providers or any entity that does abortion referrals, a move that was aimed at cutting off funds Planned Parenthood has received for sex education programs.

A spokesman said Hutchinson was reviewing the waiting period proposal approved Monday.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten, broadcast or distributed.)

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