State Medical Board To Use “Unborn Child” In Abortion Rules

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LITTLE ROCK (KTHV) — Under orders from lawmakers, a divided Arkansas State Medical Board voted Thursday (April 7) to replace the term “fetus” with “unborn child” and “unborn human individual” in proposed regulations implementing abortion-related laws passed by the state Legislature.

 The board had presented the wording governing abortion procedures for doctors in January, changing the Legislature’s language to “fetus” because its members said that was an accepted medical term, while “unborn child” was not. A subcommittee of the Arkansas Legislative Council sent the proposed rules back to the board with directions to restore the original language. The board did so Thursday on a 9-4 split vote.
Several panel members asked board attorney Kevin O’Dwyer if there were any options besides reverting to the legislative language.
“Can the Legislature not pass a law without the need for the board to necessarily act on it?” asked member Omar Atiq, who voted against the change. “There has to be a reason for 14 additional people, who are mostly physicians … for this to come to them. If it was just the Legislature, then they could make any law they want. Why do they force 14 other people to necessarily agree with them?”
O’Dwyer said the board’s role in this particular rulemaking was to “regurgitate.”
Because “unborn human individual” was not a medically defined term, he said the board originally was concerned about the effect of it on physician disciplinary hearings. He said the board could not worry about any potential issues if the language was challenged in circuit court.
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