An “Unborn Child Protection From Dismemberment Abortion Act” has been signed into Arkansas law, allowing family members and "fathers" from blocking abortions, even in cases of rape and incest.
Signed into effect by Gov. Asa Hutchinson, the law leaves doctors vulnerable to lawsuits from the foetus’ father for “monetary damages or injunctive relief”, meaning the procedure would be halted by the court. In cases of pregnancy due to “criminal conduct” – ie rape – the father cannot sue for financial compensation, but can still appeal to a judge to stop an abortion.
Doctors found performing abortions after a civil case finds against them can be punished with a fine of up to $10,000 or a six-year prison sentence.
Under the act, dilation and evacuation procedures are also outlawed, despite the American Medical Association advising them as the safest abortion procedure past 14 weeks.
Speaking to The Huffington Post, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas Holly Dickson called the bill “unconstitutional” and the organisation is planning to challenge the decision.
This law adds to the worry that Trump’s administration will attempt to overturn Roe v Wade, the landmark court case which cemented abortion rights into American federal law.