The Arkansas Legislature has been passing increasingly restrictive regulations for abortions in the past few years. While many have been tested by other states, at least one has made headlines for attempts to put in place one of the most restrictive bans in the country.
Arkansas legislators passed a 2013 law that makes abortion after 12 weeks of pregnancy illegal. It was enacted despite a gubernatorial veto. According to a review by The New York Times
, this law, which could not go immediately into effect because of court challenges, was one of the most limiting in the nation. It was far more preventive than any neighboring state. In 2013, Louisiana and Oklahoma banned abortions after 22 weeks. Missouri and Tennessee ban abortions at viability. Texas bans third-trimester abortions. Mississippi has no specific laws concerning bans after a certain time in the pregnancy.
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A Federal Appeals Court blocked the Arkansas 12-week ban in spring of 2015 based on a case filed by two doctors, NPR reported
. Unless a higher court takes up the case, the three-judge panel effectively said the law could never go into effect.
The law in Arkansas is part of a trend of legislatures passing increasingly restrictive abortion laws. A Bloomberg report said 231 new abortion
restriction laws had passed through state legislatures between 2011 and 2014. In some cases, these laws have caused a shutdown of abortion clinics. In Arkansas’ neighboring state of Texas, 19 abortion facilities stopped offering the services because of a law that required upgraded building codes and admitting privileges for doctors. Mississippi also has a regulation requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at hospitals. There is only one operating abortion clinic in that state.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, Arkansas
enacted many new abortion laws in 2015. Two laws prohibit the use of telemedicine and limit the availability of medical abortions. Arkansas legislators also passed 2015 laws to expand the waiting period on abortions, requiring more than one trip to a clinic.
The state also has new requirements for counseling including providing information on “reversing” a medication abortion, the negative effects to mental health of abortions, and the ability of a fetus to feel pain. No neighboring states passed so many abortion laws in 2015. Oklahoma passed a law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Tennessee lawmakers voted to expand waiting periods to a length that would require two trips to a clinic to get an abortion. Louisiana, Texas, Missouri, and Mississippi did not have any.
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