Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed a law Wednesday that requires doctors to investigate the medical history of women seeking abortions to ensure that women are not terminating pregnancies based on the gender of their fetuses.
The law, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2018, mandates doctors to ask women seeking abortions if they know the gender of their fetus and, if they do, to tell them that “sex-selection abortion” is illegal. The doctor then must obtain all medical records pertaining to the women’s pregnancy to verify these claims.
According to The Charlotte Observer, abortions cannot be performed under the new Arkansas law “until reasonable time and effort is spent to obtain the medical records of the pregnant woman.” Doctors who violate the new law could face up to a year in prison, $2,500 in fines and other civil penalties.
Abortion rights advocates have cried foul play, saying the measure is not about protecting female fetuses, but rather it’s about invading the privacy of women and intimidating them from exercising their constitutional right to abortion.
It’s no secret that Arkansas is one of the most restrictive states when it comes to abortion access. With the “sex-selection abortion” measure, however, they are not alone. Arkansas joined seven other states that had already passed similar laws—Arizona, Kansas, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and South Dakota.
Gendercide is a problem around the world. The United Nations estimates that there are currently 100 million girls missing worldwide—some who died from abuse and neglect due to pervasive gender inequality, and others whose births were prevented all together. It seems that Arkansas lawmakers are exploiting this issue, which is most prevalent in India and China, to encroach on Arkansas women’s reproductive rights. They would rather that women in their state are scrutinized, interrogated and threatened over receiving quality reproductive health care and abortion access.