On Wednesday, Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson signed a horrifying anti-abortion bill that requires doctors who provide abortion services to investigate the backgrounds of the women seeking those services before they perform the procedure.
The stated purpose of HB 1434 is to ostensibly block abortions that are based on the sex of the fetus but actually prohibits women from getting an abortion until the doctor has put in “reasonable time and effort”to look at the patient’s medical history. This bill was passed by the Arkansas House of Representatives and is slated to go into effect January 1, 2018.
A statement from the Center for Reproductive Rights notes that this bill is really nothing more than a legal way for doctors to prevent women from accessing the constitutionally-protected right to an abortion, under the guise of what sounds a lot like faux concern. Under the law, health care providers will have to collect the medical records relating to a woman’s “entire pregnancy history” before she can get the abortion, effectively stalling the process and legalizing what amounts to an invasion of privacy.
“Health care providers should never be forced to investigate patients for the reasons behind their personal, private decisions,” Lourdes Rivera, Senior Vice President, U.S Programs at the Center for Reproductive Rights said. “When a woman has made the decision to end pregnancy, she needs high-quality healthcare, not an interrogation.”
Doctors who violate this law could face prison time and a $2,500 fine, according to the Associated Press. American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas executive director Rita Sklar told the AP that they plan on challenging the legislation in court.
While other states currently ban abortion based on gender selection, Arkansas is the first to take the extra step of legally requiring medical professionals to investigate the medical history of a woman seeking an abortion as well as the reasons why she would chose to do so.