AR: Understanding three abortion restrictions


Aug. 7 a federal judge will determine the future of abortions in Arkansas

Photo Courtesy: Pixabay

ARKANSAS (KNWA) — Arkansas has one of the strictest abortion bans in the country. A federal judge blocked three abortion restrictions Wednesday, July 24 by putting a temporary restraining order on the issues.


The state defines abortion as the act of using or prescribing any instrument, medicine, drug or any other substance, device, or means with the intent to terminate the clinically diagnosed pregnancy of a woman with the knowledge that the termination by any of those means will with reasonable likelihood cause the death of the unborn child.

The state doesn’t consider abortions as such if the act perform is intended to save the life or preserve the health of the unborn child or the pregnant woman, remove a dead unborn child caused by spontaneous abortion, or remove an ectopic pregnancy.

Many Arkansans said they are in favor of passing the three Acts, but many are not including the Arkansas Civil Liberties Union.

Those with the ACLU stated that they, along with the ACLU of Arkansas, and Planned Parenthood are suing on behalf of Little Rock Family Planning Services, Planned Parenthood Great Plains, and two physician providers to stop these laws from taking effect.

Representatives of those agencies stated they think state legislators are targeting abortion providers with unnecessary restrictions and passing unconstitutional laws instead of taking steps to improve health care in the state.

The United States is one of seven nations in the world that allows non-therapeutic or elective abortion after 20 weeks of gestation.

In fact, 75 percent of all nations in the world don’t allow abortion after 12 weeks of gestation, except to save a mother’s life.

At 12 weeks of gestation, fetuses begin taking human form, can open and close their fingers, make sucking motions and sense stimulation from outside a womb.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statics, women in the U.S. are at greater risk of dying from childbirth-related complications. More than 700 women die annually because of childbirth-related complications.

Arkansas has the third highest maternal mortality rate in the U.S. State leaders are working on strategies to reduce maternal deaths.

At five to six weeks of gestation, a fetus has a heartbeat.

ACT 493

As of July 31, it was illegal to perform abortions after 20 weeks, according to Arkansas statutes.

Act 493 prohibits abortions after 18 weeks of gestation except in specific medical emergencies which are outlined in ACT493.

If pregnancy results from rape or incest, and a woman is 18 weeks, she may have an abortion if the physician or referring physician has determined it necessary and files a report with the Department of Health within 15 days.

Other factors and penalties are described in ACT493.

Abortions after 15 weeks of gestation are dismemberment abortions, Arkansas representatives stated. Those who have abortions after 15 weeks are more likely to require hysterectomies, blood transfusions and other surgeries.

The state defines dismemberment abortion as an abortion performed with the purpose of causing the death of an unborn child that purposely dismembers the living unborn child and extracts one piece at a time from the uterus through the use of clamps, grasping forceps, tongs, scissors, or similar instruments that, through the convergence of two rigid levers, slice, crush, or grasp a portion of the body of the unborn child to cut or tear off a portion of the body of the unborn child.

Violating this act would be a felony charge, ACT 493 states.

Most abortions performed in Arkansas happen before 16-18 weeks of pregnancy, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.

At 18 weeks, a fetus is the size of a cucumber. Around this time is when mothers begin to feel their babies move and can see the gender of their baby.

Fetuses at 18-weeks can hear, respond to sounds, yawn and hiccup in addition to other weekly milestones they’ve already conquered. Some babies’ gallbladders begin to work. The sheath that protects its nerves begins to develop, as well as their own unique fingerprints.

ACT 619

The desire for abortions because of Down syndrome are banned under ACT 619. The bill passed in the Arkansas Senate the day before World Down Syndrome Day.

State legislators are targeting Down syndrome as the prohibition to bring awareness to the disorder, and are singling out Down syndrome rather than other disorders because other countries have high abortion rates due to Down syndrome diagnoses.

At least 67-85 percent of fetuses diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted in the U.S. The population living with the condition has decreased by 30 percent., according to Prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome: a systematic review of termination rates.

Ninety percent of those in the United Kingdom who know they have Down syndrome have an abortion, according to BBC News.

Nearly 100 percent of women in Iceland terminate their babies, according Health Line.

Down syndrome is usually caused by an error in cell division, but there is no known exact reason as to why this occurs, according to the National Association for Down syndrome.

Maternal serum tests are conducted between 15 and 20 weeks to estimate the risk of a baby having Down syndrome.

The average life expectancy of someone with Down syndrome is 60 years, according to the National Association for Down syndrome.

About 50 percent of those living with Down syndrome will develop Alzheimer’s disease after 50.

A physician can’t intentionally perform or attempt to form an abortion if it’s known that the fetus has Down syndrome, according to ACT 619. The act also states an abortion can’t be performed if there are any other reasons to believe that an unborn child has Down syndrome.

Criminal penalties of this act are Class D felonies.

Further details are outlined in ACT 619.

ACT 700

Doctors who perform and induce abortions must be licensed in the state of Arkansas, and must be board-certified or eligible in gynecology and obstetrics under ACT 700.

Criminal penalties of this act are Class D felonies.

General practitioners and other types of doctors may not perform abortions under ACT 700.

Many OB-GYNs don’t perform abortions. The number of abortion providers is declining.

Two percent of abortions happen in doctors’ offices, and five percent happen in hospitals, according to U.S. abortion statistics. The rest happen in independent abortion clinics.

Dr. Frederick W. Hopkins in Little Rock provides abortions at Little Rock Family Planning Services — the only provider of outpatient, second-trimester abortion care in the state, according to court documents.

Arkansas may become the seventh state in America to have only one abortion clinic if a federal judge rules in favor of the three Acts Wednesday, Aug. 7.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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