ACLU of Arkansas plans to challenge law that allows husbands to sue to stop abortions

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- A new abortion law passed in Arkansas is getting backlash from community organizations. The law is called the “unborn child protection from dismemberment abortion act.”

The New Year kicked off with people marching for women’s rights across the country.

“I think what was encouraging about the women’s march on Arkansas, on Washington, around the country and around the world, shows that people are finally starting to wake up," said Rita Klar, executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas.

But Klar said she doesn’t believe that’s true for everyone in Arkansas due to a recent law that passed. It bans dismemberment abortions – a procedure medically known as dilation and evacuation.

"I think dismemberment is a little more descriptive and a little more accurate in reflecting what the procedure does," said Rep. Andy Mayberry, R-District 27 when the bill was going through the senate.

The procedure uses medical tools to empty a woman’s uterus, typically 14 to 16 weeks into the pregnancy.

Planned Parenthood Great Plains said it’s the most common and safe procedure for that term and said this law is “an ideological attack designed to shame and stigmatize safe and legal abortion.”

The law also contains a section being criticized that says the father of the child and husband of the mother can sue a physician to stop the abortion.

“In this case, since there’s no exception for rape or incest, the father could be a rapist and a relative," said Klar.

The law's supposed to go into effect this summer, but the ACLU says they’re going to challenge it on the grounds of being unconstitutional.

“It’s really a struggle that we should be long past in the modern times and I’m looking forward to the day when this is behind us and it certainly should be," said Klar.

The bill doesn’t prohibit the use of the procedure if it is necessary to prevent a serious health risk to the pregnant woman. It also doesn’t ban a second-trimester abortion by any other methods.

Choices Memphis released this statement on the matter:

"Politicians trying to create barriers, come up with fake names like “partial birth” and “dismemberment” to restrict women’s access to a constitutionally protected service. Most reasonable people feel that forcing a women to carry and give birth to a child of her rapist is abhorrent. This law provides no exemption for rape or incest, a woman's rapist could theoretically file suit to stop an abortion. The law is unconstitutional and there are plans to challenge it in court before it goes into effect. The state of Arkansas must have lots of extra money in it's budget for litigation since they know this law will immediately be challenged.
Husbands absolutely should have discussions with their wives about family planning and birth control. Women - even married women - have bodily autonomy. Ultimately what type of birth control to use in addition to what to do if that method fails is up to the person whose body is in question. You can not force someone to do something physically against their wishes. Would you force someone to donate an organ? No."

Here is the full statement from the CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains:

“What HB1032 is getting at, really, is the autonomy and decision-making ability of a woman. This clause is taking it one step further to say that patients are incapable of making these decisions on their own and on their own behalf.”
"Make no mistake, House Bill 1032 is an ideological attack designed to shame and stigmatize safe and legal abortion. This is a medically unnecessary and scientifically baseless attempt to ban the most common method of second trimester abortion. 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." - Laura McQuade, Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes President and CEO

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