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Arkansas Bill Amending Definition of “Unborn Child” in Wrongful Death Actions (SB 417)

This law was last updated on Jun 13, 2014




SB 417




Feb 20, 2013


Fetal Homicide, Personhood

Full Bill Text

SB 417 amends Arkansas’ Criminal Code to include personhood language.

The bill modifies the definition of “unborn child” in Ark. Stat. Ann. § 5-1-102(13) to mean “offspring of human beings from conception until birth.” Previously, the law defined “unborn child” as “a living fetus of twelve (12) weeks or greater gestation.” The criminal code classifies the death of a fetus caused by a  wrongful act, neglect, or default as a felony, but SB 417 provides exceptions for in vitro fertilization and infertility treatment.

Existing law provides a cause of action for the wrongful death of a “viable fetus.” SB 417 amends existing law to provide a cause of action for the wrongful death of an “unborn child.” The bill replaces the word “fetus” with the term “unborn child” throughout the law.

The bill defines “unborn child” to mean “offspring of human beings from conception until birth.”

The bill specifies that a cause of action for the wrongful death of an unborn viable fetus does not apply to:

  1. legal abortions, including an abortion performed to remove an ectopic pregnancy or other nonviable pregnancy;
  2. an act that is committed pursuant to a usual and customary standard of medical practice during diagnostic testing or therapeutic treatment;
  3. an act that is committed in the course of medical research, experimental medicine, or an act deemed necessary to save the life or preserve the health of the woman;
  4. assisted reproduction technology activity, procedure, or treatment; or
  5. an act occurring before transfer to the uterus of the woman an embryo created through in vitro fertilization.