The Implications Of The Arkansas Medical Laws

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Who is in charge of our bodies?

It's no secret that abortion laws have been at the forefront of political conversation this year. Between the funding and defunding of Planned Parenthood and the imminent health care bill looming, women everywhere have been left questioning: Who is in charge of our bodies? Are we?

Arkansas law requires both parents' permission for an abortion.

Arkansas has taken a very conservative stance on abortion laws this month. In order to prevent abortions, fetuses are now subject to provisions of the Final Disposition Rights Act of 2009. This act requires that aborted fetuses be treated as a deceased family member and have to be disposed of in one of a number of ways: burial, interment, cremation, removal from Arkansas, or other authorized disposition.

In addition, it provides a chain of command for who is responsible for the decision. First is the deceased's spouse or children, which is not applicable to fetuses, and then BOTH parents. The clinic would be required to contact the father if a mother sought an abortion without his presence.

Because the law specifically states that both the father and mother of the fetus must be involved in the disposition, doctors and practitioners may deny abortion to a single woman.

One example of this: rape victims would be required to contact their rapist for permission to make a decision about having an abortion.

This takes away any and all autonomy and privacy of any woman seeking help and support of medical professionals. In addition, especially in cases of rape victims, this law requires women to disclose medical information to a stranger at the discretion of a stranger. What happened to medical privacy ensured by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)?

How is this law impacting women?

Not only has this act viciously attacked a woman's right to privacy, but it has also encouraged anti-abortion activists to further make their voices heard. Outside clinics across the country, men and women alike are publicly shaming any patrons coming and going from the building.

In Hartford, Connecticut, crowds of zealots inquire as to the status of women even walking by the clinics. They ask if she is pregnant, if she is scared, or if she knows that the devil is among the clinic's patrons. They publicly harass and embarrass these women, with no background knowledge on her or her situation.

Where does this leave us?

Although it is nobody's intention to silence the citizens of our free nation, it is laws like the ones in place in Arkansas that halt open conversation as well as hinder progress between conservatives and liberals. The right to choose does not mean that every woman will choose abortion, but it gives all parties the chance to be happy and proud of their own educated decisions.