Texas recently passed a pro-life bill that has garnered a lot of national attention. Abortion advocates have tried to frame the bill as extreme. The truth is many of the bill’s provisions are commonsense regulations that have been offered in Arkansas—and actually have enjoyed a great deal of support at the Arkansas Legislature. Here are four the bill’s primary components:
#1: The Texas Law Bans Abortion After 20 Weeks of Pregnancy
Texas’ pro-life law recognizes that by the 20th week of pregnancy, an unborn baby is developed enough to feel and respond to pain and other stimuli. Because abortion often involves physical dismemberment or chemical reactions believed to cause extreme pain to the unborn child, Texas’ law prohibits abortion after the 20th week of pregnancy.
Similar Law Enacted in Arkansas: Act 171 of 2013 by Rep. Andy Mayberry
#2: Texas’ Law Requires Abortion Facilities Meet the Same Standards as Surgical Centers
Surgical abortion is an outpatient procedure, and yet many abortion clinics in America are not held to the same standards as other outpatient facilities. Many of these standards include regulations ensuring clinic exits are unobstructed and accessible; sanitation standards are maintained; and doorways and hallways are wide enough to safely accommodate a patient on a stretcher or gurney.
In Pennsylvania, paramedics responding to an emergency call at the now-infamous clinic of Kermit Gosnell spent twenty minutes just trying to navigate cluttered hallways and unlock a padlocked emergency exit to get the patient out to the ambulance. On another occasion, first responders arriving at the clinic reported they could not maneuver stretchers through the clinic’s hallways. Avoidable situations like this cost lives, and they can be prevented by ensuring abortion clinics meet the same standards as other facilities.
Similar Legislation Filed in Arkansas: SB845 of 2011 by Sen. Jason Rapert
#3: Texas’ Law Places Safety Regulations on Abortion-Inducing Drugs (i.e. RU-486)
Under Texas law, abortion-inducing drugs must be dispensed in accordance with FDA rules and regulations or in accordance with the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Practice Bulletin as of January 1, 2013.
The law also requires a physician perform an examination of the woman immediately prior to administering the abortion-inducing drug. He or she must also give the woman a copy of the drug’s label—which contains pertinent information about the drug—and must give the woman a telephone number she can call 24 hours a day for help with any complications arising from the use of the drug.
The doctor must schedule a follow-up appointment with the woman to take place within two weeks of administering the abortion-inducing drug.
#4: Texas’ Law Requires Abortionists have Admitting Privileges at Local Hospitals
A doctor performing abortions in Texas must have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of his clinic; the hospital must provide OB/GYN services.
Additionally, an abortion doctor may be penalized for failing to comply with the new law; a pregnant woman seeking an abortion, however, cannot be penalized.
Texas has passed in one piece of legislation what Arkansas lawmakers have proposed through multiple pieces of legislation. Texas’ new law has a few differences with proposed laws in Arkansas, but the substance is still the same. What’s good enough for Texas ought to be good enough for Arkansas. Many of Arkansas’ pro-life bills over the past two years enjoyed a lot of support out at the Capitol and across the state, but failed to pass because of crucial votes in the House Public Health Committee.
The 2013 legislative session may be over, but hopefully when Arkansas’ lawmakers reconvene in 2015, they will be ready to pass legislation similar to that passed in Texas. After all, the bills have already been filed here at least once. If Texas can do it, surely Arkansas can too.
Jerry is the founder and president of Family Council. He began Family Council in 1989 after a successful effort to amend the Arkansas Constitution to prevent the use of public funds for abortions. He and his wife reside in Little Rock. They have four sons.