Reproductive Rights Updates: Arkansas, Utah, Tennessee, and Missouri

In Arkansas, Jason Rapert (R-Idiculous) had proposed "heartbeat" legislation that would ban abortions if cardiac activity is detected. That legislation was tabled Tuesday. Rapert, however, is undeterred (of course he is!).
Republican Sen. Jason Rapert of Conway told reporters Tuesday he's amending his "heartbeat" bill to address concerns raised by lawmakers. The legislation originally called for banning abortions if a fetal heartbeat is detected, a move that would prohibit them as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.

Opponents have said the only way to detect a heartbeat that early is by vaginal probe. Rapert said limiting the test to an abdominal ultrasound would ban abortions as early as 10 to 12 weeks into a pregnancy.
Again, Rapert, you are missing the fact that a heartbeat does not a viable fetus make.


In Utah, a Republican senator has decided to rework her legislation that would have banned "gender-based abortions" and has opted for an entirely new tactic:
On Tuesday [Sen. Margaret Dayton] released a new bill in place of her gender selection bill that would require Utah's Department of Health to prepare an annual report for the Legislature that includes the number of abortions performed in the state and at what stage of the pregnancy the abortions took place.

"I had requests from several legislators that we get all the data and keep it in state and then we will address other issues," Dayton explained.

Dayton said the data is collected on a federal level but there are concerns that the reports will not produce the numbers Utah is seeking. She went on to explain that this bill will allow the state to gather the numbers to help policymakers when creating abortion legislation.
It's SB60 and, in looking at it, it doesn't seem to require any patient identifying information. Interesting to note though that the section the changes modify is called this: "This bill modifies Title 76, Chapter 7, Offenses Against the Family."


In Tennessee, Sen. Jim Tracy (R-Eprehensible) has proposed mandatory ultrasound and waiting period legislation.
Senate Bill 632, which Tracy filed Thursday, would require an ultrasound technician to display an image of the fetus, and it would require ultrasound machines to make any heartbeat audible to the woman. If a woman declined to view the ultrasound image, the technician would be required to describe any appendages and internal organs visible.

Women would then have to return to the provider within 72 hours to go forward with an abortion.
It also requires at least a 24 hour waiting period after an ultrasound before an abortion could happen.

Tennessee has a privacy clause in the state constitution that has prevented such legislation in the past, so this likely won't go anywhere. That doesn't bother Tracy, though, because this is almost assuredly a "political maneuver" to bolster a challenge for the Congressional seat in 2014 election. Yes, that's right. This invasive, autonomy-attacking legislation is not really meant to be more than political game-playing to further Tracy's career.


In Missouri, Rep. John McCaherty (R-Eally?!) has introduced this quixotic bit of legislation: "Abortion Ban for Sex Selection and Genetic Abnormalities Act of 2013". Here is what he has to say about it:
"We can't legally...stop her from aborting a child," McCaherty tells Daily RFT. "But we can restrict what doctors do."


"It really doesn't affect a woman's decision. Obviously, that is guaranteed by the federal courts," he tells us. "It does restrict doctors from selling abortions to patients.... That's what some of them are doing.... We are seeing more and more the sales pitch: 'If this isn't what you really want, abort and try again.'"
We are seeing that, are we? CITATION PLEASE.

The legislation says things like:
1. No person shall intentionally perform or attempt to perform an abortion with the knowledge that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion solely on account of the sex of the unborn child.

188.287. 1. No person shall intentionally perform or attempt to perform an abortion with knowledge that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion solely because the unborn child has been diagnosed with either a genetic abnormality or a potential for a genetic abnormality.
Anyone who preforms an abortion under such circumstances could face criminal charges. AND (emphasis mine):
4. A cause of action for injunctive relief against any physician or other person who had knowingly violated sections 188.275 to 188.299 may be maintained by the woman upon whom the abortion was performed or attempted to be performed in violation of sections 188.275 to 188.299; any person who is the spouse, parent, guardian, conservator, or a current or former licensed health care provider of the woman upon whom an abortion has been performed or attempted to be performed in violation of sections 188.275 to 188.299; by the Missouri attorney general's office; or by a prosecuting attorney with appropriate jurisdiction. The injunction shall prevent the physician or person from performing further abortions in violation of sections 188.275 to 188.299.
Yes, that's right: the spouse, parent, guardian, or FORMER DOCTOR of a patient could pursue legal action.

Back to McCaherty, further explaining his reasoning:
"Obviously, I'm pro-life and my intent would be to limit the number of abortions happening. Would this bill do that? I don't know.... But the decision ought to be between a mother and a father without outside influence from doctors or Planned Parenthood or whoever would be in the business of selling abortions."
Yes, doctors definitely don't need to be advising patients about medical issues. Well thought out there! I don't know about selling abortions but I think someone needs to sell you a clue, Rep. McCaherty.

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