Arkansas governor signs ban on dismembering unborn babies in abortion
LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas, January 27, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson wasted no time signing the Unborn Child Protection From Dismemberment Abortion Act into law Thursday, only a day after the state Senate passed it by a 78-10 margin.
The bill makes dilation and extraction abortions illegal to perform, except when the mother’s life or permanent disability is threatened and sets the penalty for abortionists at up to $10,000 or up to six years in jail. It leaves the pregnant woman free of criminal prosecution.
Gov. Hutchinson highlighted the bill’s controversial exceptions in a prepared statement explaining his support for the bill.
“I have read the bill and it provides safeguards that are important, including an exception for circumstances that put the health of the mother in serious risk, and it assures that there is no penalty on the mother.”
The bill’s sponsor State Representative Andy Mayberry, told reporters, “Dismemberment abortion … [is a] gruesome, barbaric procedure. It is one that no civilized society should embrace.”
Dilation and extraction abortions are the most common way to abort unborn babies in the second trimester. The baby is dismembered in the womb by medical instruments and removed by forceps or a vacuum device.
The Missouri, Texas and New Jersey legislatures are also considering anti-dismemberment bills, which follow the same template provided by the National Right to Life Committee.
Arkansas Right to Life executive director Rose Mimms told LifeSiteNews that the Senate heard testimony from retired obstetrician Orman Simmons before voting. According to Simms, he told the Senate Health Committee that “This was a very horrible way for unborn babies to die and that it wasn’t necessary, that there were other ways to kill a baby if they wanted to do it.”
Simms told LifeSite when the bill was still before the Senate that she was confident it would soon be law. “We are very pleased that the barbaric and gruesome act of tearing unborn children limb from limb will soon end in Arkansas.”
But the American Civil Liberties Union says it will fight for the brutal practice to continue. “The law puts an undue burden on a woman’s constitutional right to obtain a second-trimester abortion, and I think the legislature knows it and doesn’t care,” ACLU Arkansas attorney Rita Sklar told Reuters.
Gov. Hutchinson believes the law will survive a legal challenge. Similar laws have been passed in several states and some have already been challenged.