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Biased Counseling & Mandatory Delay

A woman may not obtain an abortion until the attending physician, referring physician, or physician's agent tells her during a consultation that may be provided by telephone and must be by means other than a tape recording:  (1) the medical risks of the proposed procedure; (2) the probable gestational age of the fetus; (3) the medical risks associated with carrying the pregnancy to term; and (4) the name of the physician who will provide the abortion.  This information must be given prior to and in no event on the same day as the abortion. 

For abortion services provided after the fetus has reached a gestational age of 20 weeks, the physician must tell the woman that anesthesia is available to alleviate possible fetal pain. 

In addition, prior to and in no event on the same day as the abortion, the woman must receive a state-mandated lecture by the attending physician, referring physician, or physician's agent, in person or by telephone, which may be provided by a tape recording, that must include:  (1) that medical assistance benefits may be available for prenatal care, childbirth, and neonatal care; (2) that the "father" is liable for child support even if he has offered to pay for the abortion; (3) that she has the option to review state-prepared materials, in printed or electronic form, that describe the fetus and list agencies that offer alternatives to abortion; and (4) that if she chooses to view the state-prepared materials in printed form, they shall be mailed to her by a method chosen by her and that if she chooses to view them via the internet, she shall be informed of the internet website address prior to and in no event on the same day as the abortion. 

The state-prepared materials must:  (1) describe with realistic and appropriate pictures or drawings the probable anatomical and physiological characteristics of the fetus at two-week gestational increments from the time when a woman can be known to be pregnant to full term, including the possibility of survival; (2) provide a comprehensive list of geographically indexed public and private agencies and services, including adoption agencies, to assist women through pregnancy, upon childbirth, and while the child is dependent, including contact information, or include a toll-free 24-hour telephone number that may be called to obtain the list orally; (3) describe, with objective information, the commonly employed abortion methods, including medical risks, the "possible detrimental psychological effects" of abortion, and the medical risks associated with carrying a pregnancy to term; and (4) that the "unborn human individual" that the pregnant woman is carrying possesses a heartbeat. Ark. Code Ann. §§ 20-16-901 to -908, -1101 to -1111 (Enacted 2001, Amended 2005); S.B.134, 89th Gen. Assem., Reg. Sess. (Ark. 2013).

The state-prepared materials include enlarged color photographs of fetuses.  Ark. Dep't Of Health, Abortion, Making A Decision (undated).  Arkansas law also requires all abortion providers who use ultrasound equipment in the provision of abortion services to tell women that they may view an ultrasound image of their "unborn child," and to place a signed acceptance or refusal in a woman's medical file for three (3) years.  Any physician who fails to inform a woman that she may view the ultrasound may be subject to disciplinary action by the Arkansas State Medical Board.  Ark. Code Ann. § 20-16-602 (Enacted 2003).

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