In today’s edition of “horrifying attacks on reproductive rights,” an infuriating new law will go into effect on January 1, 2018. Arkansas' Republican governor, Asa Hutchinson has signed an anti-abortion bill that requires doctors to investigate patients seeking abortions by digging into their medical records to scrutinize past pregnancies.
No, you didn’t just wake up in a 2017 version of The Handmaid’s Tale — and Arkansas isn’t the first GOP-run state that has introduced legislation designed to block women’s access to safe, legal abortions.
Of course, House Bill 1434 doesn’t outright state its intent to stonewall a woman from exercising her right to choose. Instead, the bill’s advertised intent is to prohibit “sex discrimination” by abortion (the irony is almost too much to bear). The sponsors of the bill claim it’s meant to prevent gender-selective abortions, in which a woman opts to get an abortion based on the fetus’ biological sex.
Unless doctors and government officials have suddenly become mind-readers and I missed the memo, this is a poorly guised attempt to thwart women seeking abortion services.
The bill requires doctors to ask patients if they know the gender of the fetus. If a woman answers yes, the doctor can’t legally perform an abortion without obtaining the patient’s full medical history. As if this invasion of privacy isn’t bad enough, doctors may take "reasonable time and effort" to obtain the records and examine past pregnancies — so women can be forced to wait indefinitely until they’re able to undergo a legal medical procedure.
If a doctor fails to comply with this new law, he or she will face criminal charges and potentially lose their medical license.
A woman considering an abortion could potentially dodge the law by opting to not learn the gender of her fetus, right? Not so fast — Arkansas has a mandatory ultrasound law.