Arkansas Abortion Laws

Abortion became legal after a period of prohibition after the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, giving states the right to regulate the procedure. Quite a few states have made the procedure so restrictive that only a couple of clinics operate within their borders. Additionally, many states require waiting periods, counseling sessions, parental consent, and other requirements. Abortion remains a highly controversial topic in most states, although it is technically legal throughout the United States.

Arkansas Abortion Laws at a Glance

The following chart contains details of abortion laws in Arkansas, with links to related sources. See FindLaw's Abortion section for additional articles.

Code Section 5-61-101 to 102; 20-9-302; 20-16-601; 20-16-701 to 707; 20-16-801, et seq.
Statutory Definition of Illegal Abortion Intentional termination of pregnancy with intent other than to increase probability of live birth or to remove dead or dying fetus, when fetus is viable. Viable fetus defined as one which can live outside the womb; fetus is presumed nonviable prior to end of 25th week of pregnancy. Partial Birth Abortion (§§5-61-201 to 5-61-204): Felony unless to save the woman's life when no other form of abortion would suffice for that purpose
Statutory Definition of Legal Abortion Abortion of viable fetus permitted when necessary to preserve life of mother, or where pregnancy is result of rape or of incest of minor; written certification by licensed physician required
Penalty for Unlawful Abortion Fine to $1,000 and imprisonment 1 to 5 years (Class A misdemeanor)
Consent Requirements

Individual seeking abortion must submit to state-directed counseling about the pros and cons of the procedure, and then wait 24 hours before receiving the abortion.

If minor or incompetent, written notice to parent or guardian required at least 48 hours before procedure, except by court order, medical emergency, upon declaration of child abuse, neglect, incest, parents' whereabouts unknown, or parent and minor have not been in contact for at least 1 yr.; informed consent of mother required (§20-16-903)

Residency Requirements for Patients -
Physician Licensing Requirements Physicians must be licensed to practice medicine in state

Supreme Court Ruling: Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt

On June 27, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against abortion regulations in Texas (Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedtthat required abortion doctors to have hospital admitting privileges and facilities to meet the standards of surgical centers. Similar restrictions under Arkansas law may be overturned in light of this ruling.

Note: State laws are constantly changing, usually through the enactment of new legislation but sometimes through higher court decisions or other means. You may want to contact an Arkansas family law attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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Arkansas Abortion Laws: Related Resources

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