Board: 3 Abortion Clinics Violated Law, Charged Women Before Making Up Minds on Abortion

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Nov 13, 2018   |   7:19PM   |   Little Rock, AR

The Arkansas Board of Health ruled against three abortion facilities this week that inspectors caught collecting money from abortion patients in violation of a state law.

Arkansas Online reports state law prohibits abortion facilities from collecting money from patients during the 48-hour abortion waiting period, a time for women to consider the risks and alternatives to abortion before making a final decision.

In March, state health inspectors found the Planned Parenthood abortion facilities in Little Rock and Fayetteville, as well as the Little Rock Family Planning Services abortion facility had violated the law, the report states.

The state Board of Health upheld the violations in an 11-2 vote this week. An attorney for the abortion facilities said they plan to appeal.

Here’s more from the report:

While the board didn’t impose a fine or other penalty, the finding keeps in place a restriction that the clinics say has caused them to lose thousands of dollars.

The clinics’ attorney, Bettina Brownstein of Little Rock, said the law violates the federal and state constitutions by requiring the clinics to provide certain services to women at least 48 hours before an abortion while prohibiting them from charging for those services at the time.

Many women never return to the clinic after their initial visits and, as a result, don’t end up paying their bills, she said.

“No medical professional in the history of this state has been required to provide mandated medical services for free, and that’s what [state health officials are] doing,” Brownstein said.

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State Rep. Robin Lundstrum sponsored the law at issue in the case. In a letter, she told the board that the monetary restriction is supposed to “ensure no woman feels obligated to have an abortion even if she determines abortion may not be the best choice for her.”

The 48-hour waiting period law is part of Arkansas’ informed consent requirements. Before performing an abortion, facilities are required to tell women about the risks of abortion and their unborn baby’s development. After providing this information, abortion facilities must give women 48 hours to consider the information before going through with the abortion.

Notably, abortion activists often have claimed these laws are not effective in reducing abortions, but details from the news report indicate many women do change their minds.

The report reveals:

From Feb. 1, 2017, to March 22, 57 women who had ultrasounds during their initial visits to a Planned Parenthood clinic, but didn’t return for abortions, had not paid their bills, resulting in $10,961.66 in lost revenue to the clinics, Nathan Johnson, the clinics’ chief financial officer said in an affidavit. The clinics lost an additional $2,957 on services provided from March 23, when it stopped collecting credit-card numbers, through July 10.

At Little Rock Family Planning, only 10 out of 108 patients who had ultrasounds during their initial visits, but didn’t return for abortions, had paid their bills as of August, while $19,600 worth of bills remained unpaid, said Lori Williams, director of Little Rock Family Planning.

It appears that at least 165 women in Arkansas considered abortion but chose life for their unborn babies within several months. Maybe they were encouraged by a sidewalk counselor, or the ultrasound convinced them that their unborn baby was a valuable life. Maybe learning about the risks of abortion or facts about their baby’s development changed their minds.

The numbers suggest that pro-life advocates are making a difference in the lives of countless women and children each year.