Ban on Common Second-Trimester Abortion Procedure Could Come to Arkansas in 2017

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Ban on Common Second-Trimester Abortion Procedure Could Come to Arkansas in 2017

Teddy Wilson

Anti-choice activists are preparing to push a ban on dilation and evacuation (D and E) procedures during the 2017 legislative session, after Arkansas lawmakers passed a series of laws restricting reproductive rights during the 2015 session.

Anti-choice activists are preparing to push a ban on a commonly used procedure for second-trimester abortion care during the 2017 legislative session, after Arkansas lawmakers passed a series of laws restricting reproductive rights during the 2015 session.

Officials from Arkansas Right to Life announced that the so-called Dismemberment Abortion Ban will be the group’s legislative priority during the 2017 legislative session—the next one in Arkansas. The organization is encouraging supporters to contact state lawmakers and ask them to support the bill, and beginning a petition drive to gather signatures in support of the legislation.

Arkansas Republicans hold a 64-36 advantage in the state house, along with a 24-11 senate majority.

The ban would target the dilation and evacuation (D and E) procedure, commonly used in second-trimester abortion care. The procedure is a method of abortion during which a physician will dilate a woman’s cervix and remove the fetus using forceps, clamps, or other instruments.

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Legislation to ban the procedure was introduced in five states this year, and was signed into law by the governors of Kansas and Oklahoma. The bills have all been copies of legislation drafted by the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), the parent organization of Arkansas Right to Life.

The legislation redefines the D and E procedure as “dismemberment” abortion and uses graphic and medically inaccurate language describing the procedure, which is key to NRLC’s strategy to passing similar laws in other states.

Rose Mimms, executive director of Arkansas Right to Life, told the Associated Press that her organization was laying the groundwork to push the anti-choice bill during the state’s next session.

Elizabeth Nash, senior state issues associate for the Guttmacher Institute, previously told Rewire that reproductive rights advocates are concerned that attempts to ban D and E abortion care could be introduced in multiple state legislatures in the coming years.

“This could be a new trend at the state level,” Nash said. “It does fall right in line with some of the trends we’ve been seeing over time. From states restricting access to post-viability abortion to the trend of 20-week abortion bans.”