Arkansas has been a leading proponent of life-affirming legal innovations. It was one of the first states to enact an ultrasound requirement and to require that women be informed about fetal pain. Arkansas is also one of only a small number of states that has completely banned human cloning.
- Arkansas’s policy, as explained in Amendment 68, § 2 to the state constitution, is to “protect the life of every unborn child from conception until birth, to the extent permitted by the Federal Constitution.”
- Arkansas possesses an enforceable abortion prohibition should the U.S. Constitution be amended or certain U.S. Supreme Court decisions be reversed or modified.
- The state prohibits an abortion if an unborn child’s heartbeat is detected and the unborn child is at 12 weeks of development or greater. This law is in litigation.
- Arkansas also prohibits abortion at or after 5-months development based upon the pain felt by the unborn child.
- Arkansas prohibits partial-birth abortion.
- Arkansas requires that, 24 hours prior to an abortion, a physician provide a woman with information about the risks of abortion, the risks of continued pregnancy, and the probable gestational age of her unborn child. Further, state-prepared materials must be made available to her. These materials include pictures or drawings of the probable anatomical and physiological characteristics of the unborn child at 2-week gestational increments and a list of private and public agencies providing counseling and alternatives to abortion.
- The state requires that women considering abortion receive information about fetal pain.
- Arkansas requires that an abortion provider offer a woman the opportunity to see the ultrasound image if ultrasound is used in the preparation for the abortion.
- A woman must also be informed that a spouse, boyfriend, parent, friend, or other person cannot force her to have an abortion.
- A physician may not perform an abortion on an unemancipated minor under the age of 18 without notarized written consent or in-person consent (with photo identification) from a parent or legal guardian, unless the minor states by affidavit that she is the victim of physical or sexual abuse and her only living parent or guardian is the perpetrator; a medical emergency exists; or the minor obtains a court order.
- Arkansas prohibits the intentional causing, aiding, abetting, or assisting a child to obtain an abortion without parental consent and requires the collection of forensic samples when an abortion is performed on a minor under the age of 14.
- Arkansas’s comprehensive abortion clinic regulations apply to “any facility in which the primary function is the willful termination of pregnancy.” The regulations prescribe minimum health and safety standards for the facility, staffing, and clinic administration.
- All facilities performing 10 or more abortions per month must be licensed by the state Department of Health.
- Only a person licensed to practice medicine in the State of Arkansas may perform an abortion. Abortion providers must also maintain hospital admitting privileges.
- The state has an enforceable abortion reporting law, but does not require the reporting of information to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The measure pertains to both surgical and nonsurgical abortions and requires abortion providers to report short-term complications.
- When an abortion is performed, an abortion provider must report information related to the post-fertilization age of the unborn child.
- Employees and volunteers at “reproductive health facilities” are included in the list of mandatory reporters of suspected sexual abuse of minors.
- The Arkansas Constitution provides that no public funds will be used to pay for any abortion, except to save the mother’s life. However, Arkansas follows the federal standard for Medicaid funding for abortions, only permitting the use of federal or state matching Medicaid funds for abortions necessary to preserve the life of the woman or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.
- The state prohibits the use of public funds for abortions, abortion referrals, or the purchase or dispensing of abortion-inducing drugs in public schools.
- Arkansas prohibits abortion coverage in the state health insurance Exchanges (required under the federal healthcare law).
- Arkansas has implemented a “Choose Life” license plate program, directing the proceeds to organizations providing abortion alternatives.
Legal Recognition and Protection of Unborn and Newly Born:
- Under Arkansas law, the killing of an unborn child after 12 weeks of gestation is defined as a form of homicide.
- The state also criminalizes nonfatal assaults on the unborn.
- Arkansas allows a parent or other relative to bring a wrongful death (civil) lawsuit when a viable unborn child is killed through a negligent or criminal act.
- Under the Child Maltreatment Act, “neglect” includes prenatal drug use that causes the child to be born with an illegal substance in his or her system or a drug-related health problem. Moreover, test results may be used as evidence of neglect in subsequent proceedings.
- Arkansas requires healthcare providers to report the birth of an infant with fetal alcohol syndrome.
- Arkansas allows a woman who loses a child after 5-months (i.e., 20-weeks) gestation to seek a “Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth,” which is filed with the state registrar.
- Arkansas bans both cloning-to-produce-children and cloning-for-biomedical-research.
- The state maintains no laws regarding destructive embryo research or human egg harvesting. Moreover, the state’s fetal experimentation statute only prohibits research on a born alive child—thereby allowing research on a child born dead (i.e., aborted) with the permission of the mother.
- Arkansas excludes an “unborn child” from the definition of “person” in the context of assisted reproductive technologies.
- The state’s “Newborn Umbilical Cord Initiative Act” has established a network to collect and store postnatal tissue and fluid.
- Arkansas mandates that only physicians may perform artificial insemination procedures.
End of Life Laws:
- Under Arkansas law, assisted suicide is a felony.
Healthcare Freedom of Conscience Laws:
Participation in Abortion:
- Arkansas law protects healthcare providers who conscientiously object to participating in abortions.
- Under the law, healthcare providers cannot be subject to civil liability or other recriminatory action for their refusal to participate in abortions.
- In addition, no hospital is required to permit an abortion within its facility.
- Arkansas provides some protection for the conscience rights of pharmacists and pharmacies.
Participation in Research Harmful to Human Life:
- Arkansas currently provides no protection for the rights of healthcare providers who conscientiously object to participation in human cloning, destructive embryo research, or other forms of medical research, which violate a provider’s moral or religious belief.
What Happened in 2013:
- Arkansas enacted all three components of AUL’s Child Protection Act: (1) a requirement that all employees and volunteers at “reproductive health facilities” properly report suspected cases of child sexual abuse; (2) a prohibition on intentionally causing, aiding, abetting, or assisting a child to obtain an abortion without parental consent; and (3) a mandate that abortion providers collect forensic samples when an abortion is performed on a minor under the age of 14.
- The legislature overrode Governor Mike Beebe’s veto of legislation prohibiting an abortion if an unborn child’s heartbeat is detected and the unborn child is at 12 weeks of development or greater. The new law has already been challenged in federal court. The state also enacted a law prohibiting abortion at 5-months development based upon the pain felt by the unborn child.
- Arkansas now requires that an abortion provider report information related to the post-fertilization age of the unborn child at the time the abortion was performed.
- The state continued its policy of prohibiting the use of state funds for abortion referrals or services in public schools.
- Arkansas enacted a law prohibiting abortion coverage in the state health insurance Exchanges (required under the federal healthcare law).
- In a busy legislative year, Arkansas also considered measures related to informed consent, the regulation of chemical abortion, and tax incentives or exemptions for pregnancy resource centers.
- Arkansas enacted a measure expanding its existing fetal homicide law to protect an unborn child from conception.
- Arkansas became the third state to enact AUL’s Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act which permits women to use force to defend their unborn children from third-party criminal violence.
- Arkansas also considered a measure related to the reporting and/or treatment of suspected prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol.
- Arkansas enacted a measure excluding an “unborn child” from the definition of “person” in the context of assisted reproductive technologies. The state also considered legislation further regulating assisted reproductive technologies.
- Arkansas considered measures related to advance planning documents, pain management, and palliative care.
Recommendations for Arkansas:
Women’s Protection Project Priorities:
- Abortion Patients’ Enhanced Safety Act
- Abortion-Inducing Drugs Safety Act
- Parental Involvement Enhancement Act
- Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act
- Joint Resolution Commending Pregnancy Resource Centers
- Defunding the Abortion Industry and Advancing Women’s Health Act
Legal Recognition and Protection for the Unborn:
- Unborn Wrongful Death Act (for pre-viable child)
- Born-Alive Infant Protection Act
- Statutory prohibition on wrongful life lawsuits
- Prohibition on Public Funding of Human Cloning and Destructive Embryo Research Act
Healthcare Freedom of Conscience:
- Healthcare Freedom of Conscience Act