LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (CN) – Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a new law Thursday barring a commonly used abortion method, while pro-abortion rights advocates argue it is an unconstitutional ban on a safe method of ending a pregnancy in the second trimester.
The law, which takes effect in August, bans the procedure known as dilation and evacuation, which supporters of the act call “barbaric.” The measure, passed by Arkansas’ Republican-controlled Senate, would become one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country if it survives likely legal challenges.
“It’s simply shameful that politicians in Arkansas spent valuable time and resources on fast tracking a cruel and unconstitutional ban on a safe method of ending a pregnancy in the second trimester,” said Amanda Allen, senior state legislative counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights.
Allen added, “When challenged in court, these bans do no pass constitutional muster, yet politicians continue to advance them to prove their anti-abortion bona-fides – at the expense of women and their health.”
West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, a Democrat, vetoed a similar measure last year, while laws in Louisiana, Kansas, Oklahoma and Alabama have been stalled due to pending legal challenges by women’s and constitutional rights organizations.
In an amicus brief opposing the Kansas measure, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said the ban “raises serious safety and health concerns for women as well as intrudes unnecessarily into the patient-physician relationship.”
Gov. Hutchinson, a Republican, signed the law hours before tens of thousands of anti-abortion activists gathered in Washington for the 44th annual March for Life. Vice President Mike Pence, who as Indiana governor also approved strict abortion laws, spoke at the event.
“Life is winning again,” Pence told demonstrators on Friday, according to Reuters.
The march is held once a year to coincide with the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade 1973 ruling legalizing abortion.
A Pew Research Center study released this month found that nearly 70 percent of Americans say the historic ruling should not be completely overturned.
The same study found that 59 percent of people across the country think abortion should be legal in all or most cases, compared with 37 percent who say it should be illegal all or most of the time.