Bill Requiring Abortion-Seekers To Know About Alternatives Passes Committee

Feb 3, 2021

Sen. Bob Ballinger, R-Ozark and Rep. Jim Dotson, R-Bentonville, presented the bill to the Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee on Wednesday.
Credit Arkansas Senate

An Arkansas Senate Committee has advanced a bill that would require those seeking an abortion to know about the resources available to them in an attempt to reduce the rate of abortion in the state.

The Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor committee approved House Bill 1195, by a voice vote on Wednesday.

House Bill 1195, or the "Every Mom Matters Act," would require a person seeking an abortion to first receive a "resource access assistance offer," which according to the bill, consists of a care agent informing the person the availability of pregnancy program services, care plan coordination services as well as other services.

The bill would also require the Department of Health to contract with numerous agencies to "ensure that each pregnant woman seeking an abortion in Arkansas receives a resource access assistance offer."

Rep. Jim Dotson, R-Bentonville, the bill’s sponsor, spoke on the possible results of passing the bill.

"The results of this that we’ve seen in other states, data shows that if women are fully informed, one-third will decide to keep their babies.” Dotson said.       

According to Dotson, that could amount to nearly 1,000 fewer abortions in Arkansas each year.

Under the legislation, care agents are not able to "refer abortion providers, recommend abortion, or take any other action that directly or indirectly advises a woman to obtain or assists someone in obtaining an abortion."

Karen Music with the Arkansas Abortion Support Network, spoke against the bill, saying it does little to actually aid those seeking an abortion.

"There’s no new services being established here. You’re doing nothing other than forcing a woman who wants an abortion to make a call to non-medical professionals to share their advice. These women know the services that are out there, they know the decisions that are going to affect the rest of their lives," Music said.

According to the bill, any person who performs an abortion on someone who has not received the "resource assistance offer," will be fined $5,000 per instance. The clinic where the abortion was conducted would be jointly liable for each fine assessed.

The bill now heads to the full Senate for a vote, where if passed without modifications, will then go to the Governor.