FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Prosecuting attorneys in Benton and Washington Counties said they’ll prosecute illegal abortion providers if the cases come across their desks.
Under the law, women seeking an abortion can’t be prosecuted, so it won’t impact them as much as those performing abortion services.
Prosecuting attorney for the judicial district that covers Benton County, Nathan Smith, said it’s his responsibility to prosecute anyone performing an abortion, except in cases to save the life of the mother. Smith said it would be a violation of a prosecutor’s oath not to enforce an entire category of law.
“I know around the country prosecutors have some have taken the position that they will not enforce those laws. That certainly is not my position,” Smith said.
This week, Smith gave notice to Planned Parenthood in Rogers that Benton County will uphold Arkansas’ trigger law.
Planned Parenthood Great Plains issued a written response.
“Our Rogers health center has never provided abortion care, which we would expect a local prosecutor to know. But in case he needs reminding, our doors remain open for other comprehensive care.”Planned Parenthood Great Plains
The Fourth Judicial District Prosecutor, Matt Durret, said he’ll take it on a case-by-case basis.
“A prosecutor’s discretion is best used in the recommendation of the outcome of the case as opposed to just a blanket decision not to not follow a particular case because that’s not our job as a prosecutor, it’s a legislator’s job,” Durrett said.
Both prosecutors said a case can be brought to them in many ways, but they will not be going through medical records or searching for illegally-performed abortions. Someone who performs an illegal abortion can face up to ten years in prison and or a fine of up to $100,000.
Although, Smith and Durrett said they don’t expect they’ll have to prosecute many of these cases.
“Health care providers who in good faith take actions they need to save the life of the mother in a genuine medical emergency have nothing to fear from Arkansas law,” Smith said.
Planned Parenthood Great Plains also said in their statement in response to Prosecuting Attorney Smith that it urges him to address problems in Benton County such as an increase in sex crimes instead.