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Women seeking abortions in Arkansas now need permission from men

Pro-choice campaigners are fighting the law, which comes into force at the end of the month

Katie Forster
Tuesday 11 July 2017 08:56 BST
Planned Parenthood supporters hold signs at a protest in downtown Denver
Planned Parenthood supporters hold signs at a protest in downtown Denver (Reuters)

A new law passed in Arkansas means women must obtain permission from the man who impregnated them before they can have an abortion.

Even in the case of rape, women wishing to terminate a pregnancy would have to seek the opinion of their attacker or abusive partner – who would be able to refuse and potentially block the procedure.

The bill, which was signed into law in March and is set to come into force at the end of July, includes aborted foetuses in a rule stating family members must agree on what to do with the remains of their dead relatives.

Parents of girls under 18 will also be able to decide whether their daughter can have an abortion.

Pro-choice campaigners are fighting the law, which they say is designed to make it more difficult for women to access abortion, under the guise of legal requirements regarding the disposal of embryonic tissue.

A spokesperson for the NARAL advocacy group told the Huffington Post the "plain intention and unavoidable outcome" of the new law is "to make it harder for a woman to access basic health care by placing more barriers between a woman and her doctor”.

Guests at a speech by former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee billed as a 'frank discussion on defending the sanctity of life from conception to natural death' (Getty Images)

A legal challenge against the bill launched by civil and reproductive rights organisations will be heard on Thursday.

"Every day, women in Arkansas and across the United States struggle to get the care they need as lawmakers impose new ways to shut down clinics and make abortion unavailable," said the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in a blog post announcing its legal challenge.

"Arkansas women cannot afford to lose further access. They cannot afford to travel hundreds of miles to get to the nearest clinic. And they should not have to endure invasions of privacy and violations of their autonomy."

Tomi Lahren announces she's pro-choice: "Stay out of my guns and you can stay out of my body too"

ACLU is among the groups aiming to freeze this bill and a number of other new abortion laws until a decision is made on their lawsuit.

This includes one signed by governor Asa Hutchinson in January prohibiting the most common abortion procedure used in the second trimester of a pregnancy.

The method known as dilation and evacuation is the safest method of ending a pregnancy, say pro-choice campaigners, but has been called “barbaric” by those who support the law.

Arkansas, a state in the southeastern region of the US with a population of nearly three million, has only four facilities that provide abortion.

Before having an abortion, women in Arkansas must have state-directed counselling and then wait 48 hours before the procedure is provided.

This counselling often includes information designed to discourage her from terminating the pregnancy, according to reproductive rights think tank the Guttmacher Institute.

Public funding is only available for abortion if the mother’s life is endangered, or in the case of rape or incest, and health plans offered for under the most basic Affordable Care Act only cover abortion in the same cases.

Donald Trump has stopped US funding for international organisations who provide abortions or even give advice about ending a pregnancy.

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