A new law that has been introduced in Arkansas will allow a husband to sue a doctor and prevent his wife from having an abortion. According to the law, if the husband is indeed the father of the child, he has the right to prevent his wife from terminating the pregnancy.
Unfortunately, the law would also allow for the husband to prevent the abortion even in cases of spousal rape. Act 45, or the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act, will also prevent most second-trimester abortions from taking place. It was signed into effect by Governor Asa Hutchinson. Included in the bill is the clause that allows for the husband to intervene in the case of an abortion taking place in a marriage.
The husband is able to file a civil lawsuit against his wife’s physician for monetary damages or injunctive relief. If relief was filed, the abortion would be prevented from taking place. The clause also allows for the woman’s parents or legal guardians to sue for the same damages if the mother is a minor.
If spousal rape or incest has taken place the husband can still sue the doctor and prevent the procedure, however, he cannot obtain any monetary gain from suing the doctor.
The bill further bans dilation and evacuation procedures in which the fetus is removed from the uterus with tools. This specific procedure is reportedly the safest means for conducting a second-trimester abortion. The same procedure is used after a miscarriage when the fetal tissue has to be removed from the mother’s womb to prevent illness. The new legislation would make the procedure a felony if used as an abortive measure.
The ACLU of Arkansas has stated that they intend to challenge the new law before it goes into full effect this summer. Currently, six other states have passed similar laws, and in four states the laws were challenged. Those four states include Alabama, Mississippi, and West Virginia. They were struck down by the courts after being challenged. As it stands, there is no way to know whether or not the bill will be struck down, in this case, however, many activists are deeming the legislation as unconstitutional.