Arkansas Planned Parenthood Clinics Stay Funded for Now

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Arkansas Planned Parenthood Clinics Stay Funded for Now

Jessica Mason Pieklo

A ruling on Friday keeps state funding available for Planned Parenthood clinics until October 2 as Republicans try to defund the health-care organization.

See more of our coverage on recent attacks against Planned Parenthood here.

A federal judge on Friday issued a temporary restraining order preventing anti-choice lawmakers in Arkansas from attempting to cut Planned Parenthood’s state funding.

The order came in a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland against Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) and members of his administration challenging orders to the Arkansas Department of Human Services to terminate Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid provider contract within 30 days.

The order will remain in effect until October 2, when the court will hear arguments in Planned Parenthood’s request for an order permanently blocking efforts to strip it of state funding.

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To date, two federal courts of appeals, the Seventh and Ninth Circuits, have struck down similar defunding measures, blocking laws enacted in Indiana and Arizona. The United States Supreme Court declined to review both of those rulings.

“We are grateful the court has ruled on the side of the women, men and teens in Arkansas who rely on Planned Parenthood for care,” Suzanna de Baca, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, said in a statement following the ruling. “It’s disgraceful that politicians like Governor Hutchinson are willing to put women’s lives on the line to score political points. For our patients, this isn’t about politics—it’s about staying healthy and building a future.”

Planned Parenthood has two health-care clinics in Arkansas, one in Little Rock and one in Fayetteville. Planned Parenthood health centers in Arkansas provide about 4,400 patients reproductive health services, including well-woman exams, lifesaving cancer screenings, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, HIV testing, and risk reduction counseling, a full range of FDA-approved birth control methods, pregnancy testing and options counseling, and other preventive health services, with a significant proportion of these patients in Arkansas receiving this care through Medicaid.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency within the Department of Health and Human Services that oversees the Medicaid program, issued a warning last month that efforts to defund Planned Parenthood by cutting the reproductive health-care provider from the Medicaid program likely violates federal law.

That hasn’t stopped states run by Republican governors and legislatures from looking for efforts to cut funding from the reproductive health-care provider in the wake of the smear campaign launched by the anti-choice front group known as the Center for Medical Progress. CMP, in a series of heavily-edited attack videos, alleges that Planned Parenthood illegally sells fetal tissue for profit. GOP-launched investigations into Planned Parenthood haven’t turned up any wrongdoing.

Reproductive rights advocates in Alabama and Louisiana have filed similar lawsuits to those in Arkansas, while regulators in Florida backed off their claims Planned Parenthood clinics were operating outside the law. Those claims were made after emails surfaced suggesting members of Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s administration scrubbed investigatory findings that cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing in the state.