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Arkansas Senate Passes Bill Mandating 72 Hour Waiting Period Before Abortions

The Arkansas Senate passed a bill Thursday expanding the restrictions it places on women seeking to end their pregnancies by mandating they wait 72 hours post-counseling before they can have an abortion.

The state senate voted Thursday 29-5 to pass SB 278. Under the legislation, women must wait 72 hours after they are counseled by a physician before they can undergo an abortion. If the law is passed, Arkansas will be the sixth state to enact a 72-hour waiting period, according to The AP.

Previously, women seeking abortions were required to wait 48 hours following state-directed counseling before they could undergo a procedure. State law also requires minors to provide a letter of consent from a parent or guardian prior to the scheduled abortion with the exception of a court order or medical emergency.

Arkansas has three abortion clinics, only one of which offers surgical abortions. Planned Parenthood operates two clinics, one in Little Rock and one in Fayetteville, that both offer medication abortions but not surgical abortions.

Arkansas also passed a law, SB149, in mid-February banning all abortions except those that are necessary to save the mother’s life if the high court overturns Roe v. Wade. No exceptions for rape or incest are included in the bill.

Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Wisconsin also have laws banning abortion that would become effective if Roe v. Wade is overturned. The laws were passed prior to Roe v. Wade, according to The Guttmacher Institute.

Louisiana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Mississippi have constitutional statutes that would make abortion illegal should the court rescind a woman’s legal right to abort.

Arkansas law permits a woman to abort a baby past the point of viability in cases of rape, incest or where an abortion is necessary to preserve the life of the mother. Persons who violate Arkansas’s abortion laws faces fines up to $1,000 and one to five years of prison time.

SB278 will now head to Republican Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson‘s desk for signature. Hutchinson is expected to sign the bill into law.

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