Arkansas might become the next state to prohibit abortions made on whether or not the woman wants to have a girl or boy. The measure was approved by a House panel Thursday as part of a Republican agenda.
Opponents say that the measure is unconstitutional, while supporters argue that the proposed ban on “sex-selection abortions” would not have much effect because most abortions take place even before the gender is determined, The Washington Post reports. But Representative Charlie Collins insists the measure is still a must, as advances in technology might make identifying gender early a possibility.
Collins told colleagues on the House Public Health Committee, “What’s reasonable today and what’s reasonable in the future could be very, very different.”
Rita Sklar, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Arkansas, contended that any restrictions would be unconstitutional if the fetus cannot survive outside the womb. “Any law passed about an abortion performed pre-viability under the current law is unconstitutional. It doesn’t matter why. It doesn’t matter the method,” she said.
There is very good potential for litigation because of this burden on women obtaining abortions that they want for whatever reason.
Seven states already have similar laws in place: Arizona, Kansas, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and South Dakota. Indiana’s is currently being challenged in court.
The Arkansas measure states that a doctor performing an abortion would ask the patient if she knows the gender, and inform her that it is illegal to abort based solely on it. Collins said, “Today’s technology does not allow sex to be determined very early in a pregnancy. Viability, abortion timelines, etc. that exist today, and when sex is determinable are such that it would be almost impossible for this to be a massive issue in the United States today.”
Since Republicans seized hold of the Arkansas Legislature in 2013, the state has banned abortion after 20 weeks of gestation. Courts have banned other measures seeking to ban abortions after 12 weeks, and limiting the administration of abortion pills.
This new bill is now headed to the House for consideration, and will take effect later this year.