State board ap­proves rule to clar­ify abor­tion law

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - ANDY DAVIS

Abor­tion clin­ics would not be re­spon­si­ble for han­dling fe­tal tis­sue ex­pelled out­side the clinic af­ter a med­i­ca­tion abor­tion, un­der an emer­gency reg­u­la­tion ap­proved Wednes­day by the state Board of Health.

Im­ple­ment­ing Act 603, passed by the Leg­is­la­ture this year, the rule would re­quire clin­ics to en­sure that fe­tal re­mains are han­dled in ac­cor­dance with the Arkansas Fi­nal Dis­po­si­tion Rights Act of 2009.

But the reg­u­la­tion also would clar­ify that clin­ics are not re­spon­si­ble for the dis­po­si­tion of such re­mains af­ter a med­i­ca­tion abor­tion “when the evac­u­a­tion of any hu­man re­mains oc­curs at a later time and not in the pres­ence of the in­duc­ing physi­cian nor at the fa­cil­ity in which the physi­cian ad­min­is­tered the in­duc­ing med­i­ca­tions.”

“The way that law is writ­ten, it’s not clear whether or not an abor­tion fa­cil­ity would be re­spon­si­ble for the fe­tal tis­sue that might be ex­pelled away from the fa­cil­ity,” Robert Brech, gen­eral coun­sel for the state De­part­ment of Health, told board mem­bers dur­ing a spe­cial meet­ing Wednes­day.

He said he didn’t know of any op­po­si­tion to the reg­u­la­tion, which the board ap­proved with a unan­i­mous voice vote.

Rose Mimms, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the anti-abor­tion group Arkansas Right to Life, said she didn’t have a prob­lem with the reg­u­la­tion.

“The law was never in­tended to re­ally over­see med­i­ca­tion abor­tions,” Mimms said.

Act 603 is one of four laws passed by the Leg­is­la­ture this year that are be­ing chal­lenged in fed­eral court in a law­suit backed by the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union and the New York-based Cen­ter for Re­pro­duc­tive Rights.

The law­suit con­tends that

Act 603 re­quires no­tice to and con­sent of third par­ties be­fore ev­ery abor­tion and can be read to bar med­i­ca­tion abor­tions and pre­vent an in­di­vid­ual from pri­vately dis­pos­ing of fe­tal tis­sue af­ter a mis­car­riage.

At­tor­neys for the state deny that the law re­stricts med­i­ca­tion abor­tions or re­quires the fa­ther to be no­ti­fied be­fore the dis­posal of the re­mains.

The other laws be­ing chal­lenged by the suit are Act 45, which re­stricts di­la­tion and evac­u­a­tion abor­tions; Act 1018, which re­quires law en­force­ment agen­cies to be no­ti­fied af­ter an abor­tion on a girl younger than 17; and Act 733, which bars a doc­tor from per­form­ing an abor­tion when the pa­tient’s his­tory in­di­cates she might be us­ing the pro­ce­dure as a sex-se­lec­tion tool.

Ac­cord­ing to an opin­ion by At­tor­ney Gen­eral Les­lie Rut­ledge, Act 603 will take ef­fect Aug. 1.

If ap­proved by the Leg­isla­tive

Coun­cil’s Ex­ec­u­tive Sub­com­mit­tee to­day, the reg­u­la­tion backed by the Board of Health will take ef­fect July 31, Brech said.

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