Arkansas’ SB 448: When anti-abortion politicians try to claim abortion isn’t safe

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Reproductive rights are human rights. We aren’t truly free if we can’t make our own decisions about our bodies, our lives, and our futures.

The decision about whether or when to become a parent is deeply personal. Yet Arkansas’ anti-abortion politicians are racing to block access to safe, legal abortion through a series of medically unnecessary restrictions.  

Since 2011, state legislatures across the nation have passed over 400 laws to restrict or ban abortion. In Arkansas, legislators have passed over 30 such bills since 2011. Legislators are considering a dozen more restrictions this session; three have already been signed into law:

  1. Act 180 - a so-called “trigger” ban, making all abortion illegal in Arkansas, if Roe v. Wade is overturned

  2. Act 493 - a ban on all abortions after 18 weeks, with only the narrowest exceptions

  3. Act 522 - a requirement that forces doctors offering medication abortion services to tell patients to search the internet for information about an unproven practice called abortion “reversal”

As if that wasn’t enough, we are monitoring a growing list of abortion restrictions in the Arkansas legislature, including SB 448. This bill would make it illegal for anyone who is not an ob-gyn to provide abortion services in the state of Arkansas. Arkansas already limits who can perform an abortion in the state: currently, only physicians can perform abortions, though evidence shows that abortions can safely and effectively be provided by properly trained advanced practice clinicians (APCs).   

With no medical evidence, politicians are now claiming they want to make Arkansas safer by further restricting who can perform abortions. The reality is that family medicine physicians are required to train in obstetrics and routinely provide gynecological care to their patients. Many family physicians who provide prenatal care and deliver babies are well-qualified to provide abortion care, too.

Separating Fact and Fiction

Let’s examine the claims that anti-abortion politicians are making:

  • Myth: SB 448 puts the health and safety of women first.

  • Reality: Abortion is already extremely safe. The real goal of SB 448 is to push abortion out of reach for Arkansans.

At Planned Parenthood, patient safety is the TOP priority. Planned Parenthood health centers follow rigorous standards and training for staff, as well as oversight and regulations that protect patient safety. Abortion is one of the safest medical procedures performed in the United States; you’re more likely to have a complication from a colonoscopy or wisdom tooth removal than from an abortion.

  • Myth: SB 448 is “smart health care policy.”

  • Reality: Arkansas has already passed a litany of laws targeting abortion providers, and this is yet another attempt to interfere with personal, private health care decisions.

SB 448 is entirely political in nature and is not based on scientific evidence. Professional organizations representing the world’s experts in health — such as American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), American Public Health Association, the American Academy of Physicians Assistants, and the World Health Organization (WHO) — oppose narrowing the type of clinicians who can provide abortion because evidence shows that abortions can safely and effectively be provided by properly trained advanced practice clinicians.

  • Myth: Abortion restrictions like SB 448 are common-sense regulations.

  • Reality: Laws like these are wolves in sheep’s clothing. Instead of protecting women, they actually make it nearly impossible for women to get the care they need.

Politicians are not medical experts, and yet they want to interfere in deeply personal medical decisions and tie doctors’ hands. Their end goal is blocking access to safe, legal abortion. SB 448 would have an immediate impact on abortion access in Arkansas. There are only three abortion providers in the state, and this medically unnecessary restriction would make it even more difficult for people to access care.

We need your help

One in four women will have an abortion by the age of 45. In a state where more than 1.4 million women live, there should be more than only three abortion providers. We must work to improve and expand access to women’s health care instead of pushing it even further out of reach for the majority of Arkansans.

We need you to take action RIGHT NOW. You can speak out against this medically unnecessary restriction today: ask your representative to vote NO on SB 448!