Sen. Gary Stubblefield has told reporters he’ll plan again to try legislation to prevent any public money from going to an organization that provides abortion.
He claimed in 2013 that similar legislation that fell one vote short in the Senate and in a House committee wasn’t aimed at Planned Parenthood, but it would be the first and primary victim. The organizatoin, which provides many health and family planning services, also contends such legislation threatens much broader health services.
Planned Parenthood gets no public money for abortion. But it has received about $70,000 in federal money to provide educational programs on sexually transmitted disease prevention in some Little Rock schools. The 2013 legislation, which failed narrowly in 2013 but now would likely enjoy broader support with larger Republican majorities, was aimed at killing this spending.
Some 2,000 people are served by the program. The legislation has potentially broader reach. It could threaten public money to domestic violence shelters, rape crisis cents and doctors who refer women to abortion providers. Does legislation that place a limitation on free speech — and the full practice of medicine, for that matter —- raise legal questions. Perhaps we’ll see.
The argument is that such defunding legislation runsafoul of “any willing provider” legislation. Effectively, patients are prevented from choosing among all providers of services for medical services. This could put all Medicaid money in jeopardy, the argument goes.
Planned Parenthood issued a statement on Stubblefield’s plans:
Planned Parenthood has been a trusted provider of high-quality reproductive health care, medically accurate health education and affordable family planning services for more than 100 years. Our health centers are an integral part of the public health safety net.
There are already laws preventing the use of public funds for abortion, with rare exceptions. The bill that Sen. Stubblefield intends to introduce would serve no purpose other than to take away critical preventive health care for medically underserved communities, such as low-income families and individuals, young adults and the elderly. The bill would disproportionately affect these communities by taking away access to breast exams, cancer screenings, family planning, HIV testing, STD testing and treatment, birth control and more.
Last year, PPHeartland provided these services to 4,000 individuals in Arkansas. We will absolutely be at the capital next session to fight to protect access to health care for all women, men and families in Arkansas.