Arkansas just passed a law that will let rapists sue victims who want an abortion
A pregnant woman's husband will have the power to stop her from having an abortion, even in cases of spousal rape, under a new law introduced in the US state of Arkansas.
Most second trimester abortions will also be banned by Act 45 - the Unborn Child Protection From Dismemberment Abortion Act - which will make it possible for husbands to sue doctors who carry out abortions for civil damages, or get an injunction to block the termination.
The pro-life law, which was pushed through in just two months by the state's Republican government, prohibits all dilation and evacuation (D&E) procedures, in which the physician removes the foetus from the womb with surgical tools.
D&E procedures are the safest way for women to end their pregnancies after 14 weeks of gestation, according to the American Medical Association.
But the medical procedure will now become a felony in the southern state, punishable by a $10,000 fine or six years in prison.
This is despite 683 of Arkansas's 3,771 abortions being D&E in 2015, according to the state's health department.
A clause in the legislation also states the husband of a woman seeking an abortion, if he is presumed to be the baby's father, can file a civil lawsuit against the physician for monetary damages or "injunctive relief" ? a court order that would prevent the doctor from going ahead with the procedure.
The woman’s parents or legal guardians can also sue to stop the abortion, if she is a minor.
Although a husband cannot win money in cases of “criminal conduct” against his wife ? namely, spousal rape ? he could still sue to block her from having the abortion.
State Representative Andy Mayberry, who co-sponsored the bill, called D&E a “gruesome, barbaric procedure”, adding that the routine procedure “is one that no civilised society should embrace”.
Mr Mayberry is also the president of Arkansas Right to Life, a subsidiary of America's largest pro-life organisation, the National Right to Life Committee.