The Arkansas House passed a bill that would ban all abortions past the 16th week of pregnancy in a near-unanimous vote yesterday. Doctors accused of violating the ban could face felony charges punishable with up to 6 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. The law includes an exception for saving the life, but not the health, of a pregnant woman.
The bill will now go to the Arkansas Senate, which is considering a similar bill that does include an exception for protecting the health of the woman. The Senate bill defines the banned procedure using language provided by the National Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
The American Civil Liberties Union's Arkansas chapter is led by Rita Sklar. Sklar believes that the bill passed by the Arkansas House would not stand up in court because it lacks a health exception.
In other abortion rights developments, the Maryland state Sen. Larry Haines (R.) will introduce an abortion ban similar to those offered in Arkansas. Like the bill introduced in the Arkansas House, the Maryland bill does not include an exception for the health of the woman. Gov. Parris Glendening has said that he will not approve this legislation unless such an exception is included.
Media Resources: Kaiser Family Foundation Reproductive Health Report - January 28, 1999