Court Blocks Another Republican Attempt to Defund Planned Parenthood

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Court Blocks Another Republican Attempt to Defund Planned Parenthood

Jessica Mason Pieklo

Arkansas is the latest conservative-run state to have efforts to defund Planned Parenthood health-care centers blocked by a federal court.

See more of our coverage on the effects of the misleading Center for Medical Progress videos here.

A federal judge in Arkansas issued a preliminary injunction Friday blocking conservatives’ attempts to defund Planned Parenthood health-care clinics throughout the state.

The Arkansas Department of Human Services (ADHS) in August notified Planned Parenthood that ADHS was terminating its Medicaid provider agreements, effective in 30 days.

ADHS terminated those provider agreements under the direction of Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who explained in a press conference that the agreements were terminated because “[i]t is apparent that after the recent revelations on the actions of Planned Parenthood, that this organization does not represent the values of the people of our state and Arkansas is better served by terminating any and all existing contracts with them.”

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Hutchinson was referring to a series of heavily edited and widely discredited smear videos released by an anti-choice front group known as the Center for Medical Progress (CMP). The group’s attack on Planned Parenthood has been coordinated with GOP lawmakers.

Planned Parenthood operates health centers in Little Rock and Fayetteville. These centers provide family planning services to men and women, including contraception and contraceptive counseling, screening for breast and cervical cancers, pregnancy testing and counseling, and early medication abortion.

In September, Planned Parenthood and its patient co-plaintiffs filed suit to stop enforcement of Hutchinson’s efforts to block Medicaid patients from accessing care at Planned Parenthood’s health centers. The court issued a temporary restraining order blocking the Hutchinson administration’s efforts to defund Planned Parenthood.

Friday’s order extends that early ruling and will remain in place while the case proceeds.

“Governor Hutchinson’s order to cancel Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid contract is illegal and it does not reflect the values of Arkansans who care about women’s health,” Suzanna M. de Baca, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, said in a statement following the decision. “Our doors are open, we are here for our patients, and we will continue to do everything we can to uphold our patients’ right to safe, quality, compassionate care at Planned Parenthood.”

Arkansas is one of several GOP-led states that have tried to defund Planned Parenthood following the release of CMP’s attack videos. A federal district judge last week blocked similar defunding efforts in Utah.

To date, two federal courts of appeals, the Seventh and Ninth Circuits, have struck down similar efforts to defund Planned Parenthood health-care centers across the country, blocking laws enacted in Indiana and Arizona. The Supreme Court declined to review those rulings, leaving the appeals courts’ decisions in place.

Meanwhile, legal challenges continue against similar measures in Alabama and Louisiana.