New AR Law Lets Men Block Wives’ Abortions

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A new law in Arkansas that bans the most common procedure used in second-trimester abortions is making international headlines.

Supporters believe the law prohibiting dismemberment abortion benefits the unborn baby, while opponents believe it punishes the mother.

But there’s a third life involved: the father.
 
“What if we said to men, ‘Before you can have a vasectomy…,'” said State Sen. Joyce Elliott, D-Little Rock. “That would be so outrageous. But they don’t see the outrage in constantly putting the thumb on women to dictate what they can do and not do.”
 
A clause buried in the new law states the husband of a woman having this type of abortion, if he’s the baby’s father, could sue the doctor to keep his wife from going ahead with the procedure, even if he raped her.
 
“I find it highly embarrassing and highly insulting that any such a thought could come across anyone’s mind,” said Sen. Elliott. “Then to put it into a law and have so many people go along with it makes it even harder.”
 
Sen. Elliott said she read that part of the bill but couldn’t do anything about it as it quickly became law.
 
“It was not something that was talked about on the Senate floor,” she said. “If we cannot make headway on something like an exception for rape and incest, I think it just felt kind of fruitless to make some sense out of the rest of what was in the bill.”
 
Another woman in the Arkansas Senate defends the new law. 
 
“I think a woman does have control over her own body, but when you have created a life, you created a life with someone else,” said State Sen. Missy Irvin, R-Mountain View. “I believe that life within the womb has its own rights. There are documented scientific facts and evidence that a baby within the womb can feel pain.”
 
The ACLU of Arkansas calls the law unconstitutional and plans to challenge it in court before it goes into effect this summer. 
 
Sen. Irvin is co-sponsoring another bill that would prohibit women from having an abortion based solely on the unborn baby’s sex. The proposal claims the victims of these abortions are overwhelmingly female.
 
“It’s really based on common sense,” Sen. Irvin said. “In all different areas, we basically protect gender when it comes to employment, benefits, voting. There is such a thing as ethics, medical ethics. When you abort a baby based on sex selection, you’re basically saying that you’re choosing a boy’s rights over a girl’s rights.”
 
Sen. Irvin couldn’t say how many women in Arkansas or the U.S. have sex-selective abortions, but did say the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville, sees the proposal as a preventative measure.  
 
“I think people do that,” she said. “Absolutely. I think that comes into play, and we want to make sure that we in the state of Arkansas don’t do this.”
 
But to Sen. Elliott, it’s just something else to call outrageous.
 
“I just find it interesting that we think we are qualified to do this work,” she said. “I have never talked to a single person who’s ever had an abortion who went in to this in a willy-nilly fashion. It’s just so insulting.”
 
Sen. Irvin said eight states have passed similar legislation involving sex-selective abortion.
 
The bill is scheduled to go before a House committee Tuesday. 

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