A recently passed bill in Arkansas could make it more difficult—if not impossible—for women to have abortions.
According to HuffPost, H.B. 1566, which was signed into law in May, is “a provision under the Arkansas Final Disposition Rights Act of 2009.” It basically states family members must collectively decide what to do with the remains of deceased loved ones, but there’s one terrifying issue: the bill also applies to aborted fetuses, meaning women would essentially need permission from their partners before having an abortion—even in the case of abuse and/or becoming pregnant via sexual assault.
“While proponents of this plan claim it’s about embryonic-tissue requirements, the plain intention and unavoidable outcome of this scheme is to make it harder for a woman to access basic health care by placing more barriers between a woman and her doctor,” a NARAL Pro-Choice representative told HuffPost. “Some politicians have begun trying to make abortion functionally unavailable through insidious restrictions like this one. Their intention is, of course, to make abortion unavailable by any means necessary.”
According to a study written by Dr. Felicia H. Stewart and Dr. James Trussell in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 25,000 rape-related pregnancies occur each year in the United States. Research has shown unplanned pregnancies often occur in both psychologically and physically abusive relationships, with 20% of women having experienced violence that lasted throughout their pregnancy. It is also not uncommon for abusive partners to maintain power over women by means of reproductive coercion, during which one may seek to obstruct or interfere with use of contraception.
So what happens to women when bills like H.B.1566 are passed? The ACLU is not trying to wait and see.
In a statement released in June, the ACLU announced plans to “fight politicians who not only seek to shame, punish, or burden women for making these decisions, but also try to push care out of reach.”
“Every day, women in Arkansas and across the United States struggle to get the care they need as lawmakers impose new ways to shut down clinics and make abortion unavailable,” they wrote.
H.B. 1566 takes effect at the end of July.