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Arkansas governor signs ban on common abortion procedure

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) signed into law on Thursday a measure considered among the most restrictive abortion legislation in the country. The law, which takes effect later this year, prohibits dilation and extraction, what abortion rights advocates say is the most common method of ending a pregnancy in the second trimester.

Similar laws have been adopted in Mississippi and Louisiana, according to Reuters. Similar bans in Kansas, Oklahoma and Alabama have faced legal challenges and have not been implemented, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which tracks abortion legislation.

Abortion rights advocates have vowed to oppose the measure. “It’s simply shameful that politicians in Arkansas spent valuable time and resources on fast tracking a cruel and unconstitutional ban on a safe method of ending a pregnancy in the second trimester,” said Amanda Allen, senior state legislative counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Hutchinson has said he believes the Supreme Court could uphold the law if it went that far. The Arkansas health department, according to Reuters reporting, has said that dilation and extraction, an abortion method used in the second trimester, was used in 683 of the 3,771 abortions performed in Arkansas in 2015.

Live coverage of the March for Life
People gather at the base of the Washington Monument Friday morning for the March for Life. (Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post)

After 43 years of doggedly demonstrating against abortion at the annual March for Life each January, thousands of abortion opponents are gathering Friday on the Mall with great reason for optimism. Just days into his presidency, Donald Trump has made abortion one of his first priorities in office.

With a likely eye toward rewarding voters who supported him based heavily on expectations that he would act on abortion, Trump has already revived an old policy banning U.S. funding for groups abroad that pay for abortions or provide information about abortion. On Tuesday, he signaled his intentions to nominate an antiabortion justice to the Supreme Court next week, and he has vowed more action to follow.

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