LITTLE ROCK — With no debate, the House on Monday approved a bill to tighten regulations on abortion clinics.
The chamber approved House Bill 1428 by Rep. Robin Lundstrum, R-Elm Springs, in a 77-8 vote. The bill goes to the Senate.
HB 1428 would require that a person who performs an abortion be a licensed physician; that the state Health Department conduct at least one unannounced inspection per year of each abortion clinic; and that each inspection include examination of medical records, informed consent signatures and, for patients who are minors, parental consent signatures.
The bill also would require each abortion clinic to pay a $500 annual fee to the Health Department for a license to operate and require the department to suspend or revoke the license of clinic found to be in violation of any law or regulation.
Current law requires “periodic” inspections of abortion clinics and allows but does not require the Health Department to charge clinics a $500 annual license fee.
‘This is a bill that’s time has come,” Lundstrum told House members. If we’re concerned about a woman’s health, and I know … all of you are, I hope you’ll vote for this bill.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas and Planned Parenthood oppose the bill, which they say is aimed at making it more difficult for abortion clinics to operate in Arkansas and more difficult for women to obtain abortions in the state.
Earlier in the session, Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed into law a measure to ban the abortion procedure known as dilation and evacuation, except when necessary to protect the mother from death or severe injury. The ACLU has said it will challenge the law, which is set to take effect 90 days after the session ends.