In what seems like a chilling interpretation of Margaret Atwood’s bestselling dystopian novel and popular TV show “The Handmaid’s Tale,” women in Arkansas will now have to ask permission from men to have an abortion — because men already don't have enough monopoly over women’s bodies, apparently.
A few months after Arkansas Gov. William Asa Hutchinson signed Sex Discrimination by Abortion Prohibition Act that requires physicians and medical practitioners to "investigate" women who seek abortions, the state lawmakers passed yet another bill to make the procedure harder to access.
The H.B. 1566, which is a provision under the Arkansas Final Disposition Rights Act of 2009, includes aborted fetuses in the section of the act mandating that after a person’s death, family members have to agree on what to do with the deceased person’s body.
Now, for both the mother and the father of the fetus to agree on what to do with fetal remains, a woman would be forced to tell whoever impregnated her — be it an abusive partner or someone who sexually assaulted her.
As the Bustle reported, for women who are under 18, their parents or guardians will have to take the decision on their behalf. Moreover, if a physician performs abortion without having the father’s consent over how to dispose the fetal tissue, they could face criminal penalties.
“While proponents of this plan claim it’s about embryonic-tissue requirements, the plain intention and unavoidable outcome of this scheme is to make it harder for a woman to access basic health care by placing more barriers between a woman and her doctor,” a representative for NARAL Pro-Choice told HuffPost. “Some politicians have begun trying to make abortion functionally unavailable through insidious restrictions like this one. Their intention is, of course, to make abortion unavailable by any means necessary.”
To fight back against the legislation, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit against H.B. 1566.
“Every day, women in Arkansas and across the United States struggle to get the care they need as lawmakers impose new ways to shut down clinics and make abortion unavailable,” members of the ACLU said in a statement. “A woman’s decision to end a pregnancy is hers to make with her family, her faith, and her doctor. We will fight politicians who not only seek to shame, punish, or burden women for making these decisions, but also try to push care out of reach.”
The provision is due to go into effect at the end of this month.