Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed into law on Thursday a bill to protect unborn babies from brutal dismemberment abortions.
Hutchinson signed the bill, the Arkansas Unborn Child Protection From Dismemberment Abortion Act, less than a day after the state Senate passed it with strong support, KTHV News 11 reports.
Arkansas House Bill 1032 prohibits dismemberment, or dilation and evaluation (D&E), abortions, a common second-trimester abortion procedure. Exceptions would be allowed in rare cases where there is a serious risk to the woman’s health, KFSM News 5 reports. Doctors who violate the measure could be held liable; however, women would not be punished, the report states.
A dismemberment abortion typically is performed on a nearly fully-formed, living unborn baby in the second trimester. It is a barbaric and dangerous procedure in which the unborn child is ripped apart in the womb and pulled out in pieces.
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According to the Arkansas Department of Health, 683 of the 3,771 abortions performed in 2015 were D&E, or dismemberment abortions.
“Dismemberment abortion … [is a] gruesome, barbaric procedure. It is one that no civilized society should embrace,” said State Rep. Andy Mayberry, R-Hensley, earlier this week, according to Arkansas Online.
In a previous statement, Hutchinson said, “I have read the bill and it provides safeguards that are important, including an exception for circumstances that put the health of the mother in serious risk, and it assures that there is no penalty on the mother.”
He said he believes the law is constitutional and would be upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, if challenged, Reuters reports.
Mayberry, the lead sponsor of the bill, said he hopes the bill will not be challenged, but if it is, he also is “confident” it will withstand judicial scrutiny.
The American Civil Liberties Union leaders quickly promised a lawsuit on Thursday to challenge the new law.
“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,” ACLU Arkansas attorney Rita Sklar said.
The dismemberment abortion ban embodies model legislation from the National Right to Life Committee that would prohibit “dismemberment abortion,” using forceps, clamps, scissors or similar instruments on a living unborn baby to remove him or her from the womb in pieces. Such instruments are used in dilation and evacuation procedures.
Dismemberment abortion bans also have been voted into law in Kansas, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana. Mississippi and West Virginia have their laws in effect, while the other states are battling legal challenges.
The Arkansas law is scheduled to go into effect this summer, according to the AP.