Arkansas governor may sign bill restricting use of abortion pill in state

The bill received bipartisan support in the state's Senate.
Fri Mar 20, 2015 - 10:00 am EST
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Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson

LITTLE ROCK, AR, March 20, 2015 ( -- Arkansas' Republican governor may sign a bipartisan bill requiring Arkansas doctors to only use the abortion pill in line with federal Food & Drug Administration (FDA) regulations. The bill, which received bipartisan support in the state's Senate, is the latest of several pro-life measures supported by the GOP-dominated legislature.

According to the Associated Press, the state Senate voted 26-5 to send a bill to the desk of Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Tuesday. The bill requires doctors and abortion pill providers to follow guidelines from the FDA, rather than make independent decisions on how to use the pill.

Among the FDA's recommendations are that women take a higher dose of medication than what is often prescribed, and a limit of when women can use the pill to seven weeks. It would also make off-label uses of the abortifacient illegal.

Republican State Sen. Linda Collins-Smith told her colleagues that "this bill protects women from dangerous and potentially deadly off label uses of the abortion drug," and that "the bill in no way restricts the availability of abortions." However, one of the five Democrats who opposed the measure, Senate Minority Leader Keith Ingram, said the regulations smack of political interference in medical decisions.

"We're getting into some choppy waters here when we mandate what a doctor can and can't do when prescribing medicine to his patients," said Ingram, who saw four of his Democratic colleagues vote for the bill. Ingram also criticized the bill because of its exclusive focus on abortion and not other medications.

If Hutchinson signs the bill, it will be just the latest in a series of pro-life, pro-family measures he has signed. In February, he signed a bill banning the use of video conferencing by abortionists for the administering of the abortion pill. He also signed legislation last week that would allow terminally ill patients to use experimental treatments not approved by the FDA, and in February allowed a bill that banned so-called "non-discrimination laws" by municipalities and counties to become law.

The latter bill, which protects religious liberty and property rights while not allowing same-sex actions to be considered in the same civil rights category as race and gender, will take effect 90 days after the legislative session in Arkansas ends later this year.

The medication abortion bill could face lawsuits if Hutchinson signs it. A 2011 North Dakota law was in court until October of last year, when the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of the law and the state's only abortion clinic directed employees to stop handing out the abortion pill.

A similar law in Arizona was challenged by the abortion industry, and overturned by the Ninth Circuit Court. The Supreme Court of the United States declined to hear the case. Laws in Ohio and Texas have been upheld by courts, though Oklahoma's law was overturned.

  abortion, arkansas, asa hutchinson, ru-486

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