Arkansas has introduced a new player into the legal framework of female reproductive rights: men. A law signed by the governor on Jan. 26 allows the father of would-be aborted children to veto a second trimester abortion at his choosing.
The specific abortion procedure targeted by the law is called "dilation and evacuation," and is the most common and safest form of abortion performed during the second trimester, notes The Daily Beast.
“The D&E method is the most common method of second-trimester abortion in the United States and in the world,” Laura McQuade, CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, added. “It is the method endorsed by the World Health Organization, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and the American Medical Association.”
“There is zero part of me that understands why a rapist or someone who got someone pregnant against their will, maybe incest, would have any right in that decision,” Karen Musick, co-founder of Arkansas Abortion Support Network, said of the bill's inclusion of the father. “I cannot wrap my brain around the fact that there would be anyone who thinks otherwise.”
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“What that’s getting at, really, is the autonomy and decision-making ability of a woman,” McQuade said. “The law itself is a major overstep into the doctor-patient relationship… This is taking it one step further to say that women are incapable of making these decisions on their own and on their own behalf.”
But state representative and bill co-sponsor Andy Mayberry defended the bill by calling the dilation and evacuation method a “gruesome, barbaric procedure," and added that the procedure “is one that no civilized society should embrace.”
According to Reuters, Mississippi and Louisiana have adopted similar laws, while bills in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Alabama are undergoing legal challenge before being enacted.
Rita Sklar, an attorney with the Arkansas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, contests: "The law puts an undue burden on a woman’s constitutional right to obtain a second-trimester abortion, and I think the legislature knows it and doesn’t care."