LITTLE ROCK — With no debate, the House voted Tuesday to approve a bill to prohibit a doctor from performing an abortion on a woman if he or she knows the woman is seeking an abortion solely because of the sex of the unborn child.
The chamber voted 79-3 to approve House Bill 1434 by Rep. Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville. The bill goes to the Senate.
Under the bill, before a doctor could perform an abortion, he or she would be required to ask the woman if she knows the sex of her unborn child. If the woman answers that she does, the doctor would be required to request the woman’s medical records relating to her pregnancy.
The doctor would be prohibited from performing an abortion on the woman until “reasonable time and effort” has been spent to obtain the records.
A doctor who performs an abortion on a woman despite knowing that she is seeking an abortion solely because of the sex of the unborn child would be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
The doctor also could have his or her medical license suspended or revoked and would be subject to civil liability. A lawsuit could be filed against the doctor by the woman who received the abortion or her parent or guardian if she is a minor or incompetent.
Collins told House members that although parents typically do not learn the sex of a child until it is too late to have an abortion, advances in technology may make that no longer true in a few years.
“The bottom line is, it’s just the right thing to do to have this in the law,” he said.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas has said the bill is unconstitutional because the U.S. Supreme Court has established that states cannot ban abortions before a fetus becomes viable, or able to live outside the womb.
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.