New Arkansas Law Lets Men Block Wives' Abortions

by Jerriann Sullivan
Originally Published: 
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There’s no exception for cases involving spousal rape

A ridiculous new law in Arkansas allows men to block their wives’ abortion, even in cases of spousal rape. In addition to banning most second trimester abortions, the new law lets a man sue his wife’s doctor for civil damages or injunctive relief, which would block the medical procedure.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) signed into law the “Unborn Child Protection From Dismemberment Abortion Act” last week, but faces a legal battle in the near future. The law prohibits one of the safest methods of removing a fetus from a woman after 14 weeks of gestation. Dilation and evacuation procedures, known as D&E procedures, remove the fetus using surgical tools. The law, which was rushed through in less than two months, makes the safe medical procedure a felony.

The worst part is that it lets a husband have a say over his wife’s abortion, even if the child was conceived as a result of spousal rape.

The overreaching legislation states that a husband can’t sue his wife’s doctor for money in cases involving “criminal conduct” against his wife. But even in cases involving rape, the husband can still sue to stop the abortion, the Huffington Post reported. And because Arkansas politicians care about everyone except the pregnant person, they also buried a clause in the law that lets the parents of a minority sue to stop her abortion. That means if a 16-year-old living in Arkansas is raped or becomes pregnant by accident her parents can decide what’s best for her regardless of her feelings.

“We’ve tried to account for all the worst case scenarios,” State Rep. Andy Mayberry (R), who co-sponsored the bill, told The Daily Beast. First of all, yes, his name really is Mayberry. And yeah bud, sounds like you took into account all the shitty things that could happen to a woman and created a law that would make a stressful situation 100 times worse by stripping away her rights.

“I cannot begin to tell you what the intent was, but we have raised concerns about that provision and the entire rest of the bill, which is unconstitutional,” explained Holly Dickson, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas. “They created a whole new right ― the right of a husband or family member to sue a doctor on behalf of an adult patient.”

And while they created that right, it won’t last. The ACLU of Arkansas will challenge the abortion ban in court before it can go into effect. While everyone is entitled to their opinion on abortion, there’s little use fighting over it since the Supreme Court ruled on it in 1973. The ruling in Roe v. Wade protects a woman’s right to have an abortion until 22 weeks of pregnancy, which is when a fetus would be viable outside of the womb.

How do we know this law will likely fail? Because we’ve already seen it happen in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and West Virginia, where politicians passed nearly identical laws only to have them struck down by the courts. It’s time for Republicans to stop trying to control our bodies. How much more taxpayer money do we have to waste on the same damn fight?

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