Welsco Industrial Gas and Welding Supply, which has supplied oxygen and nitrous gas to the Little Rock Family Planning Clinic for a decade, told the clinic in early January it would no longer sell to them and demanded its tanks back after an abortion protester filmed a company truck delivering gas to the clinic and posted for a time on YouTube.
Lori Williams, clinical director, declined, since the clinic has paid for the gas. The clinic's contract with Welsco says it will return the tanks when they are empty, and Williams told the company she'd return them then.
In response, Welsco manager Aaron Campbell called the police, and officers visited the clinic, at 4 Office Park Drive, Jan. 6. Williams explained to police that she had a contract with Welsco and would be happy to return the tanks when they are empty but not sooner. The police said fine, made out an information report, and left. They later returned to tell her that Welsco was offering a refund. Williams declined the refund.
Now, Little Rock Family Planning is seeking a new oxygen and nitrous supplier. One company made one delivery but then backed out, saying they wanted to avoid controversy.
The gases are used as pain killers in medical procedures including, but not limited to, abortion: They are also used for insertion of IUDs and vasectomies, a new service the clinic offers.
Little Rock Family Planning's clients come from all over Arkansas. There are no other surgical abortion providers in Arkansas. Memphis and Tulsa are the closest cities that do offer the procedure.
RELATED: The Pro-Choice America Foundation reported that state anti-choice legislation doubled in 2011 over 2010 and 2012 is expected to be worse. Its annual rundown on the status of women's (dwindling) reproductive rights is here.