Today's Paper Digital FAQ HER Magazine Public Notices Podcast Obits Latest Newsletters Jobs Puzzles Classifieds Circulars

Bill would expand exception to Arkansas’ abortion ban

HB1684 widens exception mother's health by Neal Earley | March 23, 2023 at 10:58 a.m.
FILE — The state Capitol is shown in this undated file photo.

A bill filed Wednesday would broaden the exception to Arkansas' abortion ban, allowing the procedure when necessary to protect the health of the mother.

Rep. Denise Garner, D-Fayetteville, filed House Bill 1684 the day after the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that that state's constitution guarantees the right to an abortion when a doctor has determined that continuing a pregnancy would endanger a woman's life due to a medical condition she is suffering from or is likely to suffer from.

Currently, abortions in Arkansas are allowed only to save the life of a woman during a medical emergency.

HB1684 would allow women to seek an abortion in cases where there is a "health-endangering" condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy.

The bill would also delete the word "physical" from language in the state's ban that defines a medical emergency as a situation in which a woman's life is endangered by a physical disorder, injury, illness or condition.

Garner's bill did not have any co-sponsors as of Wednesday and had yet to be assigned to a committee. The General Assembly is on spring break and is set to return to the state Capitol on Monday.

[DOCUMENT: Read proposed abortion-ban amendment »]

Arkansas' abortion ban took effect in June after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned 1973 landmark case Roe v. Wade, clearing the way for states to ban abortion.

The state Legislature passed the Arkansas Unborn Child Protection Act in 2019, but it did not take effect until after the Supreme Court's decision. Then-Attorney General Leslie Rutledge signed a certificate implementing the law.

Oklahoma's abortion ban included an exception for cases of medical emergencies, but the state's Supreme Court ruled the law must extend to cases where a pregnant woman's health is at risk.

The court cited provisions in the Oklahoma Constitution protecting people from being "deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law" and guaranteeing them "the inherent right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the enjoyment of gains of their own industry."

One Arkansas bill to allow for abortions in cases of lethal fetal abnormalities failed to make it out of committee earlier this session.

House Bill 1301, by Rep. Nicole Clowney, D-Fayetteville, would allow abortions in cases where "crucial parts of the baby's anatomy -- the brain, the skull, the kidneys -- fail to develop," she said. The House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee voted the bill down on a voice vote.

Print Headline: Bill filed to allow abortion for health


Sponsor Content