Arkansas Code Title 20. Public Health and Welfare § 20-16-2002. Legislative findings and intent

(a) The General Assembly finds that:

(1)(A) The United States is one (1) of only seven (7) nations in the world that permits nontherapeutic or elective abortion on request after the twentieth week of gestation.

(B) Fully seventy-five percent (75%) of all nations do not permit abortion after twelve (12) weeks' gestation, except to save the life and preserve the physical health of the mother;

(2) Medical and other authorities now know more about human prenatal development than ever before, including without limitation:

(A) Between five (5) and six (6) weeks' gestation, an unborn human being's heart begins to beat;

(B) An unborn human being begins to move about in the womb at approximately eight (8) weeks' gestation;

(C) At nine (9) weeks' gestation, all basic physiological functions, buds for teeth, eyes, and external genitalia are present;

(D)(i) An unborn human being's vital organs begin to function at ten (10) weeks' gestation.

(ii) Hair, fingernails, and toenails begin to form at ten (10) weeks' gestation;

(E)(i) At eleven (11) weeks' gestation, an unborn human being's diaphragm develops, which can result in hiccups.

(ii) In addition, an unborn human being begins to move about freely in the womb;  and

(F)(i) At twelve (12) weeks' gestation, an unborn human being can open and close his or her fingers, make sucking motions, and sense stimulation from outside the womb.

(ii) At this stage, the unborn human being takes on “the human form” in all relevant aspects as stated in Gonzales v. Carhart, 550 U.S. 124, 160 (2007) ;

(3) The United States Supreme Court has recognized that a state has an “important and legitimate interest in protecting the potentiality of human life” in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, 162 (1973) , and, specifically, that “the state has an interest in protecting the life of the unborn” as discussed in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833, 873 (1992) ;

(4)(A) The majority of abortion procedures performed after fifteen (15) weeks' gestation are dismemberment abortions as defined by § 20-16-1802 , which are prohibited under the Arkansas Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act, § 20-16-1801 et seq.

(B) The performance of these types of abortions for nontherapeutic or elective reasons is a barbaric practice that is dangerous for the pregnant woman and demeaning to the medical profession;

(5) Most obstetricians and gynecologists practicing in this state do not offer or perform nontherapeutic or elective abortions;

(6)(A) According to a 2004 article, abortion can cause significant physical and psychological risks to the pregnant woman that increase with gestational age.

(B) Specifically, the relative physical and psychological risks escalate exponentially as gestational age increases in abortions performed after eight (8) weeks' gestation;

(7) In the vast majority of uncomplicated pregnancies, the maternal health risks of undergoing an abortion become greater than the risks of carrying a pregnancy to term as the second trimester progresses;

(8) In abortions performed after fifteen (15) weeks' gestation, there is a higher risk that a pregnant woman will require a hysterectomy, other reparative surgery, or blood transfusions;  and

(9) The state has “legitimate interests from the outset of pregnancy in protecting the health of women” as determined by Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833, 847 (1992) , as the “medical, emotional, and psychological consequences of abortion are serious and can be lasting” as stated in H.L. v. Matheson, 450 U.S. 398, 411 (1981) .

(b) It is the intent of the General Assembly to restrict the practice of nontherapeutic or elective abortions to the period up to the eighteenth week of gestation.


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