What does a hard-right state legislature do after passing the most restrictive abortion law in the country? It goes after family planning programs, naturally.
It’s not called the “forced birth” movement for nothing.
Arkansas State Sen. Jason Rapert, the Tea Party brains behind the 12-week ban just passed by the Arkansas legislature, is now proposing legislation that would cut all public funding to Planned Parenthood. Like other states such as Arizona and Texas, Rapert wants to cut any state or federal funds from going toward any entity that performs abortions. Planned Parenthood doesn’t perform any surgical abortions in Arkansas, but it does distribute abortion pills in the state.
The bill, if passed, would cut off funds for non-abortion services like sex education programs that educate students about sexually transmitted disease. And while Rapert is not working directly with Arkansas Right to Life, the group is pushing a bill that would ban the distribution of RU-486 or other medication abortions via webcam, making accessing reproductive health care in the state nearly impossible for some women.
Arkansas only has one clinic that performs surgical abortions left open.
Planned Parenthood officials vowed to fight the legislation. “For many Arkansas women we care for, we are the only health care provider they rely on every year for affordable care including well woman exams, lifesaving cancer screenings, contraception, and STD prevention,” said Jill June, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland. “Planned Parenthood will fight this dangerous bill just as we fought Senator Rapert’s abortion ban – politics should never come between a woman and her medical care.”
Rapert’s singular focus on abortion rights is not that much of a surprise. He won re-election last year after defeating a Democratic lawmaker who had chaired the House committee that previously rejected several anti-abortion measures during the 2011 session. Rapert is another lawmaker in the mold of Todd Akin, descendants of the days of clinic terrorism, misogynists with an undivided focus on beating back women’s progress toward social and economic equality any way they can.
Photo courtesy of ctrouper via Flickr