Opponents' of Women's Health and Autonomy Make Gains in State Senate, Suffer Losses in House
Bills that Passed
Senate Bill 845, Requiring Every Office that Performs even Medicinal Abortions to be Outfitted like Ambulatory Surgical Facilities, Passes State Senate Committee
Impact of this law:
This law requires facilities providing abortions to build ambulatory surgical facilities even if they do not provide surgical abortions. The bill claims to address health and safety, and yet none of its provisions will impact patient care in any way. This bill would effectively eliminate abortion services in Arkansas, even for victims of rape or incest, and would likely be successfully challenged in court.
- Abortion is one of the safest medical procedures provided in the United States. Fewer than .3% of abortion patients experience a complication requiring hospitalization. In the U.S., more than 90% of all abortions are provided in outpatient facilities such as doctors' offices and clinics.
- There is no evidence that abortions would be safer in another setting or that abortions are performed inadequately in outpatient facilities.
- Abortion facilities are already regulated. All health care facilities, including abortion providers, are required to comply with a variety of federal and state regulations, including Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements. All medical professionals, including physicians and clinicians who work in abortion care, are required to maintain professional standards and licenses and complete continuing medical education courses.
- This bill is subject to a constitutional challenge. The bill uses government regulation to impose a substantial obstacle to a guaranteed right to abortion. It also violates equal protection in that other facilities, such a live birth separate facilities, are not required to meet the requirements of ambulatory surgical centers. It imposes an undue burden on women seeking abortion because the costs that it would impose are so prohibitive as to cause all abortion providers in the state to halt. In this event, this bill would likely invite a constitutional challenge.
SB 845: Tells Doctors how to Prescribe the Abortifacient Mifeprestone, Regardless of Doctor's Judgment
This bill bans "off-label" use of mifepristone, the drug that physicians administer during medication abortions. Currently, physicians only have to administer 200 mg of the drug for it to be safe and effective, but this bill seeks to unnecessarily increase that dosage to 600 mg. (The FDA recommendation is 600mg, based on outdated research; any variance from the FDA recommendation is considered "off label," regardless of current research or practice.) In other words, this bill forces women to take three times (3x) the necessary dosage, regardless of how that might impact their health and safety.
- Physicians, not legislators, should be in charge of creating a plan of care that ensures patient health and safety.
- This bill forces Arkansas physicians to use outdated medical practices. While physicians in the rest of the country use a safe, standard practice in administering mifepristone, physicians in Arkansas would be forced to use an old and seldom-used practice. Medical practice in Arkansas should be on the cutting edge, not stuck in the past while other states advance.
- This bill makes abortion less safe. Making women take three times the necessary dosage means that more women will decide to have surgical abortions. But in many cases, medication abortion is safer for a woman than undergoing a surgical abortion. If this bill were passed, women's health and safety would be compromised.
- If this bill was passed, women who used medication abortion instead of surgical abortion would unnecessarily experience more side effects of mifepristone.
- This bill is unconstitutional and if enacted, could end up in protracted litigation. By denying some women access to medication abortion all together and forcing others to follow a regimen that their physician does not deem most medically appropriate, this bill would deny women of the rights guaranteed to them by the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. A similar bill is being litigated in Ohio, where the case has lasted 8 years.
- The FDA acknowledges on their website that providers are administering it off-label. If there were any substantiated safety concerns, the FDA would consider banning use of the drug altogether.
- AMA recognizes that 40-60% of all prescription drugs are administered in an off-label manner. Regulating the prescribing of mifepristone obscures the fact that many more dangerous drugs are available for off-label use.
Bills that have Failed to Follow