PLANNED PARENTHOOD ACTION FUND
For Immediate Release: 
Thursday, April 2, 2015
Contact:  Planned Parenthood Media Office, 212-261-4433 

 Arkansas’s Race to the Bottom: New Guttmacher Report Released TODAY Spotlights Arkansas

State Passes Six New Abortion Restrictions in Just One Month

 

Washington, DC --Politicians in Arkansas are in an aggressive race to the bottom when it comes to women’s health and rights, having passed six new abortion bills in just one month – adding to the numerous restrictions the state already has on the books. The slew of bills and new laws come as the Guttmacher institute released a brand new report today on state trends highlighting Arkansas’s rapid increase in restrictions on women’s health care. 

The new report highlights new trends in restrictions on medication abortion, particularly in Arkansas which has passed a law forcing providers to, according to Guttmacher, operate on outdated FDA protocols developed in Europe well over twenty years ago. Updated protocols have fewer side effects and require fewer physician visits. The report also calls out Arkansas’s ban on telemedicine delivery of abortion, noting the detrimental effect it has on access to abortion in rural areas.

"This report shows that women are suffering at the hands of politicians who are working overtime to impose their personal beliefs on all women. Politicians are not medical experts, yet politicians have written these laws as part of a broader effort to end access to safe, legal abortion in Arkansas and in states across the country," said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund. "These restrictions hurt women by blocking access to safe medical care and are deeply unpopular with the American public. Planned Parenthood will do everything in its power to protect women's health and rights, working alongside our supporters in the ground and across the country to defeat these dangerous restrictions."

These restrictions are part of 332 provisions introduced just this year that seek to restrict access to the full range of reproductive care for women, 53 of which had been approved by legislatures and 9 of which had been enacted by April 1.

Already clocking in at dead last  in women’s health indicators, there are only three health centers inArkansas that provide safe, legal abortion. The restrictions passed this session could severely restrict access at all of those locations. As we’ve seen in states like Texas, this layering of restriction, upon restriction, upon restriction can create sometimes impossible barriers on women seeking access to safe and legal abortion.

 If they become law, the bills passed in Arkansas this session would:

  • Require doctors to provide patients with information about so-called “abortion reversals” that could be harmful to their health. Arkansas joined Arizona in passing this provision over the objection of medical experts and despite the fact that it has no basis in science and is not supported by medical evidence.  The national groups behind this measure are the very same people who make false claims that rape can’t lead to pregnancy — and whose real agenda is to ban abortion outright.
     
  • Double the forced delay for a woman to access safe, legal abortion to 48 hours—one of the longest mandatory delays in the country. This creates serious barriers for women who will have to take time off of work and arrange for travel and childcare over the course of multiple days in a state that already has only three providers.
     
  • Severely restrict access to medication abortion, an extremely safe method of abortion early in pregnancy—and the only procedure available at two out of three of the health centers in the state. Signed into law this past month, this law forces doctors to ignore more than 14 years of medical research and use an outdated protocol for medication abortion. Together with the forced 48-hour delay, this could require four physician visits for medication abortion and would ban its use after seven weeks of pregnancy.
     
  • Establish one of the most onerous restrictions on safe, legal abortion for minors.Arkansas law already prohibits minors from obtaining an abortion without the consent of a parent, but this takes current restrictions to a whole new level.  Among multiple other provisions, it strips current law of the exception to parental consent where the minor is a victim of incest, rape, or sexual abuse at the hands of the parent from whom she must get consent. It also restricts minors seeking a judicial bypass by mandating that she can only file her petition in the courthouse nearest to her house -- where she may have friends, relatives, or neighbors who work there or who may be there conducting their own government business.  Minors from rural areas of the state where everyone knows everyone else in the community would be likely to have their confidentiality compromised (more here).

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Planned Parenthood Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Action Fund engages in educational and electoral activity, including voter education, grassroots organizing, and legislative advocacy.