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LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas' predominantly Republican Legislature is preparing to take up new abortion restrictions when lawmakers convene next month, even as the state's past efforts to restrict the procedure remain caught up in legal fights.

Two abortion measures have already been filed ahead of the session, while anti-abortion groups say they're talking with legislators about several other new restrictions. Abortion opponents said President Donald Trump's appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court offer them hope that any new restrictions the state enacts will be upheld.

"I don't think the changes at the Supreme Court level have encouraged us to try to pass more bills," said Jerry Cox, head of the Arkansas Family Council. "What that has done is give us encouragement that many of these laws may indeed be upheld."

Arkansas has enacted some of the nation's strictest abortion laws since Republicans won control of the state Legislature in 2012, and many have been the subject of court battles. A federal appeals court on Thursday heard oral arguments over a judge's decision to block Arkansas from enforcing four restrictions, including a ban on a common second trimester procedure.

"We're fully committed and ready to challenge to fight for women's right to choose," said Bettina Brownstein, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas.

Republican state Sen. Trent Garner filed the first two abortion proposals, including a measure prohibiting doctors from performing the procedure if they know the woman is seeking one solely because the fetus is diagnosed with Down Syndrome. The measure has an exception for the life or health of the mother or the fetus, and Garner said he planned to add exceptions for rape and incest.

"Being born different shouldn't be a death sentence," Garner said. "We should protect the most vulnerable in our society."

Only one other state, North Dakota, has a similar law in effect that prohibits abortions because of a genetic anomaly diagnosis. Similar laws in Indiana, Louisiana and Ohio have been blocked by courts.

Garner's other proposal would require physicians and abortion facilities to report any complications from the procedure to the state health department within three business days.

The bills have drawn objections from abortion rights groups, who say they're prepared for more restrictions to be proposed.

"While we expect more (anti-abortion bills), we would hope the Arkansas legislature would understand that bills like this do not do anything to protect women's health," said Tamya Cox-Toure, regional director of public policy and organizing for Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes.

Jerry Cox said his group is talking with lawmakers about several new bills as well, including a proposal to extend the waiting period for an abortion from 48 hours to 72 hours. Several other states, including neighboring Missouri, have similar waiting periods. Cox said another the group is discussing would put into law the state's decision to cut off Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood.

Arkansas Right to Life Executive Director Rose Mimms said her group is working on two bills for the session, only one of which deals directly with abortion. Mimms said the group wants to require facilities that provide the abortion pill also give women a toll-free number for an organization they can call if they want to seek an abortion "reversal."

Proponents of the idea argue doctors can give a woman the hormone progesterone to stop an abortion after she has taken the first of two medications needed to complete the abortion. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has said that there is no medically accepted evidence that a drug-induced abortion can be interrupted. Arkansas' law already requires facilities to inform patients about the procedure.

"We've done a lot in Arkansas, so I think what we've planned is plenty this session," Mimms said.

Mimms said her group is also working on legislation that would expand the "safe haven" law allowing people to anonymously surrender a newborn without fear of criminal prosecution. Mimms said the group wants the law to include fire stations that are manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


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  • Illinoisroy
    December 14, 2018 at 2:06 p.m.

    They need to let it go and work on business of government instead of religion.

  • condoleezza
    December 14, 2018 at 2:26 p.m.


  • pravda
    December 14, 2018 at 4:39 p.m.

    abortion in almost 100% of the cases are unneeded. Abortion Always results in one of the patient's being murdered. Kermit Gosnell is the greatest mass murderer in US history. He killed thousands of inner city - full-term babies, if you condone infanticide, your soul will be required of you in the next life, Dante describes your destination, EVERYONE is created by our LORD JESUS Christ for a specific purpose,,killing anyone is wrong, unless they have murdered someone=then their life should be forfeit

  • Nodmcm
    December 14, 2018 at 4:41 p.m.

    Did you see there is a place online, on the internet, overseas where they will send women abortion pills in the mail. This just about ends talk of banning abortions. If the cops can't keep fentanyl out of the mail, what luck will they have stopping abortion pills?

  • Troublemaker
    December 14, 2018 at 4:54 p.m.

    There is a great inconsistency in allowing exceptions to abortion for women who conceived through rape or incest, and denying it to women who became pregnant by simply having sex, and it is this: A child, regardless of how it is conceived, is "innocent". You cannot say you are representing the interests of unborn children and make an exception. Mr. Garner and Mr. Cox make that exception. They are, in fact, not representing the unborn, but controlling which women can have control over their bodies. Only when the woman has "lost control" does she seem to have the right to, ironically, control the outcome. Everyone can have an opinion about abortion, but NO ONE should have control over a woman's body and her decisions about it.

  • Troublemaker
    December 14, 2018 at 5:08 p.m.

    This paper gives entirely too many inches to this subject, year after year after year. I want to read more about what the state is doing to make life better for the kids who are living and breathing now. Healthcare (not just cover the meetings--go out and interview some doctors, families, schools ???), school safety (Arming teachers? Are we kidding? There is NO EVIDENCE-based study that shows that to be a good idea, and many say it's a terrible idea. Why aren't you helping to inform the reader instead of just reporting what a committe expressly instructed to avoid discussion of gun control recommended?) It's important to cover meetings to inform the public, but you could do a whole lot more than just give elected officials a grandstand. There is recent article about the futility of teaching coding in the Atlantic. But you'd think it was the end all and be all according to the paper and the Governor. After the recent debacle of Republican representatives interviewing a Google executive, looks like you all would question any recommendation an elected official makes re: technology. I would not want my children to waste time on it. There is so much more to learn about using a computer!

  • odinson
    December 14, 2018 at 6:09 p.m.

    Until you can strap a feed bag around a woman's head and treat her like a brood mare, Americans will continue to fight all you hypocrites who think your god supercedes their rights as humans. You flat earthers would love to take us back to public executions and virgin sacrifices. You already have laws trying to bring back the wild, wild west, I'm just waiting for an actual shoot out at high noon. And it'll happen...sooner than you think. You hypocrites allow children to be torn from families at the border, molested while in custody; you even kill dehydrated 7 year olds. And still you think you can treat women like property when you have proven over and over you really don't care about children, only in controlling a lesser species in your eyes. Get out of other people's lives and women's wombs.

  • 23cal
    December 14, 2018 at 6:22 p.m.

    Perfect proof:
    First comment: work on business of government instead of religion.
    Second comment: Right
    Third comment: Religion, religion, religion.
    Anyone who denies this is religion mingling with state in violation of the established constitutional jurisprudence of separation of church and state has only to read the first three comments here to be shut down.
    Of course they're submitting more anti-abortion stuff. It's just campaign publicity for them which will be paid for by all of the taxpayers in Arkansas whose tax dollars are continually wasted defending foredoomed culture war laws.
    Why don't you wait until you pay the tab on the ones already in the courts along with the silly Ten Commandments monument of Rapert and the theocrats before you run the tab up even higher?

  • UoABarefootPhdFICYMCA
    December 14, 2018 at 7:15 p.m.

    Yes! I want birth tribunals! Where the Father is found by threatening the mother with imprisonment. I want hanging judges for abusive parents. All OUR money goes to giving it to whomever is greedy enough to breed. So let see some REAL limitation and RESPONSIBILITIES.

  • Popsmith
    December 14, 2018 at 9:52 p.m.

    Abortion is still murder.

    Maybe we should be teaching men to keep their zippers up if they aren't going to be responsible for their children.