New Arkansas Bill Forces Rape Survivors To Inform Attacker If They Need An Abortion

by Sarah Hosseini
Image via Artur Widak/Getty Images

The Arkansas bill is a crushing blow to women’s bodily autonomy

We’ve heard of several state-level abortion restrictions in the last few months. The most recent is happening in Arkansas where a new bill will force women to tell their sexual partner or family members if they want to have an abortion.

And if they don’t, they’d be committing an illegal act.

The H.B. 1566, also known as the Tissue Disposal Mandate, just passed in the state’s 2017 legislative session. The provision will make it illegal for a woman to have an abortion without first notifying the man who impregnated her. The father could be a husband, boyfriend, a one night stand from the bar, or a Tinder hook up. Most dangerously, it could be a woman’s rapist.

The bill’s supporters added the provision sneakily (because they’re cowards) to the Final Disposition Rights Act of 2009. That piece of legislation states that the fetal tissue from abortions is viewed as a “deceased” family member. So basically the decision of how to dispose of the aborted fetus would have to be made between the man and woman involved. It doesn’t matter if this sex act was consensual.

It doesn’t matter if the woman is in (or was in) a domestic violence situation. None of it matters to these reckless legislators. There are no protections or exceptions currently in the provision, which is the scariest and most violating part of all.

The bill’s primary sponsor, Republican Representative Kim Hammer tells Bustle, “He was there at conception so he ought to be there through the whole process. I think that all life, from conception through birth and right up through death by natural causes, needs to be treated with dignity, respect, and also a unified approach to deal with the remains.”

As evidenced above, his quote is pretty much on par with the nonsensical drivel we’ve heard from conservative politicians who’ve tried to defend violating women’s reproductive rights in the past. His pie in the sky idea of having a “unified approach” is really just a cover up for screwing over women.

Lori Williams, the clinical director at Little Rock Family Planning Services, tells the Arkansas Times, “With these new laws, the politicians have sunk to a new low … They do nothing to advance women’s health.”

The provision would legally force rape survivors or survivors of incest to tell their abusers if they wanted to get an abortion. They wouldn’t be able to get an abortion until both parties agree to disposing methods. If they disagree, then they’d go to court. Meanwhile, time is ticking and the woman stays pregnant during this time. In Arkansas, there is a ban on abortion after 22 weeks. This is clearly putting an undue burden on the woman while delaying (and possibly denying) her access to care.

It’s easy to see how all of this strips a woman of her privacy and possibly puts her in very grave danger. We’re talking about victims of horrific assaults, forced to reconnect and communicate with their attackers and abusers. In what world are we living where this is OK?

The new guidelines are to be enacted on July 30, but the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has a pending lawsuit against the legislation and will challenge the enforcement of it until things can be settled in court.

In a news release, ACLU Arkansas Director Rita Sklar said, “Instead of protecting women’s health, Arkansas politicians have passed laws that defy decency and reason just to make it difficult or impossible for a woman to get an abortion. They’ve created burdensome bureaucratic hurdles that invade patient privacy.”