Reproductive health care was protected last week in Arkansas when a U.S. District Court Judge issued a preliminary injunction, temporarily prohibiting blocks on Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood.
Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson ordered the Arkansas Department of Health Services to defund Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, which operates two clinics in Little Rock and Fayetteville, ending the clinic’s Medicaid provider contract.
To support his demand, Hutchison referenced the discredited videos produced by the Center for Medical Progress, an anti-abortion group formed to take down Planned Parenthood. On Friday, a federal judge ruled that Planned Parenthood could move forward with a federal racketeering lawsuit against CMP for the criminal tactics they employed to film the fraudulent videos. Not a single investigation on the state or federal level has produced any evidence of wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood.
The CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, Suzanna de Baca, explained this as a victory for low-income patients who depend on Planned Parenthood for its services, for “every person deserves access to quality, affordable health care from the provider they know and trust, and today, the court recognized that.”
Warnings have been issued to states by the Obama Administration, making it clear that efforts to restrict Planned Parenthood’s access to state Medicaid funding is a violation of federal law.
Ensuring that Arkansas citizens have access to the resources Planned Parenthood provides is critical. According to the executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas, Rita Sklar, Arkansas “has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation, contribution to the fact that nearly 1 in 5 people live below the poverty level.”
25 states have amped up efforts to cut the organization’s Medicaid funding in the wake of the CMP videos. Last month the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Louisiana cannot deny Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood for none abortion procedures.