- Associated Press - Friday, January 29, 2016

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The Arkansas Board of Health has voted to remove the phrase “death of the unborn child” from regulations that will implement new abortion laws, setting up a potential clash with the Legislature that approved the language.

In a 12-6 vote Thursday, the panel decided that regulations governing abortion facilities should continue to use the phrase “termination of the pregnancy” to define abortion, but the change must be approved by the Legislature, which used the “unborn child” language in its legislation.

“I would certainly advise against playing a game of chicken with the Legislature because it would probably not go well,” Department of Health Director Nate Smith told the board.

The regulations would implement six laws passed by the Legislature last year, as well as the parts of a 2013 law that remained in effect after a federal judge struck down the piece banned most abortions at or after 12 weeks of pregnancy, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Friday (https://bit.ly/1QKX7ih ).

“This change does not seem consistent with the intent of the people of Arkansas, and I would fully expect this change that the Board of Health suggested to be reviewed with a very critical eye and likely be overturned,” said Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who must also approve the regulations before they go to the Legislature.

But board member George Harper, who voted to remove the phrase, said the “death of an unborn child” language goes too far and isn’t based in science.

“I understand that probably, in part, it was designed to be a deterrent to abortion and make a woman and her doctor feel guilty about what they’re doing,” said Harper, a retired Health Department official who represents consumers on the board.

He said the board must avoid ideology, religion and politics when considering the regulations.

“If we’re just a rubber stamp (of) exactly what the Legislature does, I don’t really see why we need to meet,” Harper said.


Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com

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