Arkansas Woman’s Right to Know Act (HB 1578)
This law was last updated on Apr 6, 2015
HB 1578 repeals and replaces the Woman’s Right to Know Act of 2001, as well as provides for voluntary and informed consent for an abortion.
Informed Consent Requirement
The bill prohibits any abortion from being performed without the voluntary and informed consent upon whom the abortion is being performed. At least 48 hours before the procedure the physician would be required to inform the woman orally, and in person, the following:
- The name of the physician who will perform the abortion;
- Medically accurate information including:
- A description of the proposed abortion method
- The immediate and long-term medical risks associated with the method, including:
- cervical or uterine perforation;
- danger to subsequent pregnancies;
- hemorrhage; and
- infection; and
- Alternatives to the abortion;
- The probable gestational age of the unborn child;
- The probable anatomical and physiological characteristics of the unborn child;
- The medical risks associated with carrying the unborn child to term;
- Any need for anti-RH immune globulin therapy if the woman is RH negative, the likely consequences of refusing such therapy, and the cost of the therapy; and
- Information on reversing the effects of abortion-inducing drugs.
At least 48 hours before the abortion, the physician would also be required to inform the woman that:
- Medical assistance benefits may be available for prenatal care, childbirth, and neonatal care, and that more detailed information on the availability of such assistance is contained in the printed material and informational DVD given to her;
- The printed materials and DVD describe the unborn child and list agencies that offer alternative to abortion;
- The father of the unborn child is liable to assist in the support of the child, even in instances where he has offered to pay for the abortion;
- The woman is free to withhold or withdraw her consent to the abortion at any time; and
- The information in the printed materials and DVD is also available on the state website.
At least 48 hours before the abortion, the woman would be required to be given a copy of the printed materials and permitted to view and given a copy of the informational DVD:
- If the woman is unable to read the materials, the materials would be read to her in a language she can understand.
- If the woman asks questions concerning any of the information or materials, the person who provides or reads the information or materials shall answer her questions in a language she can understand.
At least 48 hours before an abortion is performed or induced on a woman whose pregnancy has progressed to twenty (20) weeks gestation or more, the physician performing the abortion on the pregnant woman, the referring physician, or a qualified person assisting the physician shall, orally and in person, offer the following information on fetal pain to the patient:
- That by twenty (20) weeks gestational age, the unborn child possesses all anatomical links in its nervous system, including spinal cord, nerve tracts, thalamus, and cortex, that are necessary in order to feel pain;
- That an unborn child at twenty (20) weeks gestation or more is fully capable of experiencing pain;
- A description of the actual steps in the abortion procedure to be performed o induced and at which steps in the abortion procedure the unborn child is capable of feeling pain;
- That maternal anesthesia typically offers little pain prevention for the unborn child; and
- That an anesthetic, analgesic, or both are available so that pain to the fetus is minimized or alleviated.
- Before the procedure, the woman must certify via checklist that all information has been provided.
- The physician would then report monthly to the health department the total number of certifications they received.
- The health department would make the information available to the public annually.
- The physician would need to sign a copy of the checklist and retain a copy in the patient’s medical records.
Publication of Materials
The Department of Health would be required to:
- Publish printed materials and an informational DVD in English and Spanish; and
- Develop and maintain a secure Internet website that provides the information found in the printed materials and DVD.
- The materials would be required to include:
- A comprehensive list of the public and private agencies and services;
- The following statement: “There are many public and private agencies willing and able to help you to carry your child to term and to assist you and your child after your child is born, whether you choose to keep your child or to place her or him for adoption. The State of Arkansas strongly urges you to contact one or more of these agencies before making a final decision about abortion. The law requires that your physician or his or her agent give you the opportunity to call agencies like these before you undergo an abortion.”;
- Inform the patient about available medical assistance benefits;
- Contain a toll-free 24-hour telephone number for information regarding local agencies and services;
- State that it is unlawful to coerce a woman to get an abortion; and that a minor may be eligible for public assistance benefits if their parents deny financial assistance due to the minor refusing to get an abortion.
- Any physician who performs an abortion on a woman without informed consent would be liable to her for damages in civil action.
Other materials that would be required to be made available:
- Information on support obligations of a father of a child who is born alive;
- Paternity and child support services;
- Materials that describe the probable anatomical and physiological characteristics of the unborn child at two-week gestational increments from fertilization to full term, including color photographs of the unborn child at two-week gestational increments;
- Information about brain and heart functions;
- Information describing the various surgical and drug-induced methods of abortion, as well as the immediate and long-term medical risks commonly associated with each abortion method; and
- Information on the potential ability of a qualified person to reverse the effects of abortion-inducing drugs, such as mifepristone, Mifeprex, and misoprostol.
The DVD would also be required to show an ultrasound of the heartbeat of an unborn child at 4-5 weeks gestational age, 6-8 weeks gestational age, and each month thereafter, until viability.
HB 1578 also requires abortion facilities to post a sign that reads:
“It is against the law for anyone, regardless of his or her relationship to you, to force you to have an abortion. You have the right to contact any local or state law enforcement or any social service agency to receive protection from any actual or threatened physical, emotional, or psychological abuse. It is against the law to perform, induce, prescribe for, or provide you with the means for an abortion without your voluntary consent.”
The sign must be posted in each waiting room, patient consultation room, and procedure room. The continued posting of signage is a condition of licensure at any facility.
Anyone that violates any part of this law would be subject to criminal and civil penalties.
Enrolled. HB 1578 is now Act 1086.
- Lance Eads
- Dan Sullivan
- Michelle Gray
- Rebecca Petty
- Nelda Speaks
- DeAnn Vaught
- Brandt Smith
- Laurie Rushing
- Tim Lemons
- Kenneth Henderson
- Mickey Gates
- Donnie Copeland
- Mary Bentley
- Blake Johnson
- Charlene Fite
- Bruce Cozart
- David Meeks
- Andy Davis
- Jim Dotson
- Justin T. Harris
- Josh Miller
- John Payton
- Richard Womack
- Jake Files
- Bart Hester