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Arkansas GOP Will Target Common Abortion Procedure in 2017

Teddy Wilson

Laura McQuade, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, said the Republican-backed bill is an “ideological attack” that is intended to “shame and stigmatize” pregnant people seeking abortion care.

An Arkansas lawmaker last week pre-filed a bill created by an anti-choice legislation mill that would ban a commonly used procedure for miscarriages and second-trimester abortion care.

GOP lawmakers in state legislatures across the country have pushed similar measures in recent years, despite opposition from the evidence-based medical community.

HB 1032, sponsored by Rep. Andy Mayberry (R-Hensley), prohibits a doctor from performing or attempt to perform a so-called dismemberment abortion. The Arkansas Unborn Child Protection From Dismemberment Abortion Act targets the dilation and evacuation (D and E) procedure that is commonly used after miscarriages and during abortion care in the second trimester of a pregnancy. 

The GOP measure includes an exception for cases where the procedure is “necessary to prevent a serious health risk to the pregnant woman”—but its definition of a health risk explicitly excludes “psychological or emotional” trauma.

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The anti-choice legislation carries a criminal penalty for doctors of up to six years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Similar bills have been introduced in several states. They are copies of legislation drafted by the National Right to Life Committee, an anti-choice group.

Laura McQuade, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, said in a statement that the bill is an “ideological attack” that is intended to “shame and stigmatize” pregnant people seeking abortion care.

“This is a medically unnecessary and scientifically baseless attempt to ban the most commonly used form of second trimester abortion,” McQuade said.

Mayberry, the president of Arkansas Right to Life, was the architect of the state’s unconstitutional 20-week ban and was a co-sponsor of a total abortion ban that was permanently blocked by a federal court.

Mayberry told KFSM News that he hopes the legislation will “educate” pregnant people and gave his justification for the bill’s use of a non-medical term for the D and E procedure.

“I think dismemberment is a little more descriptive,” Mayberry said. “And a little more accurate in reflecting what the procedure does.”

West Virginia’s Republican-majority legislature in March voted to override the veto of a similar bill. The governors of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama signed D and E bans this year.

In Oklahoma and Kansas, similar bills were blocked by state courts.

McQuade accused lawmakers in Arkansas of wasting taxpayer dollars by pushing for unconstitutional restrictions on abortion care.

“Impartial judges across the country have found this ban unconstitutional, including in neighboring states like Kansas and Oklahoma, and Arkansas legislators should know better than to spend taxpayer money defending a law they know is unconstitutional,” McQuade said.

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