By Maggie Mallon. Photos: Getty Images.
In what is the latest—but certainly not the last—attempt by a state government to eliminate women's reproductive freedom, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed a law on Wednesday that requires doctors to investigate the medical histories of women seeking an abortion before they can perform the procedure.
According to the Associated Press, the law—HB 1434, otherwise known as the Sex Discrimination by Abortion Prohibition Act—is designed to prohibit women from having abortions based on the sex of a fetus. Arkansas is not the only state in the country with such legislation in place: Eight other states, including Arizona, Kansas, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and South Dakota have all outlawed sex-selective abortion. But by adding the medical history caveat, the Arkansas bill adds a whole new and invasive layer of restrictions to women trying to terminate a pregnancy.
Under the law, doctors are required to ask a woman if she is aware of the sex of the fetus. If her answer is "yes," a doctor is then required to inform her that sex-selective abortions are illegal. From there, the doctor must request the woman's medical records in relation to their entire pregnancy history. An abortion cannot be performed until “reasonable time and effort" is spent on procuring the patient's medical history and if a doctor goes through with the procedure without following these requirements, he or she could face up to a year in prison and $2,500 in fines, as well as the loss of his or her medical license.
Though Arkansas legislators say that the law is solely a protective measure—they included language in the bill explaining that "victims of sex-selection abortion are overwhelmingly female"—Center for Reproductive Rights Senior Vice President for U.S. Programs Lourdes Rivera suggested that the measure is nothing more than a thinly-veiled attempt to interfere with a woman's constitutionally-protected right to an abortion.
“Health care providers should never be forced to investigate patients for the reasons behind their personal, private decisions,” Rivera said in a statement on Wednesday. “When a woman has made the decision to end a pregnancy, she needs high-quality health care, not an interrogation.
This story originally appeared on Glamour.
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