Legislature today: Abortion; school elections | Arkansas Blog

Legislature today: Abortion; school elections

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From the legislature this afternoon:

* FETUS FRENZY: By a 19-11 vote, the Senate today approved a bill aimed at stopping state funding to Planned Parenthood. The bill would restrict spending on any agency that refers or otherwise countenances abortion and the sponsor made it clear in committee that was the purpose — to punish Planned Parenthood, one reason that the bill is constitutionally suspect. The practical effect is to stop spending on some sex education programs aimed at preventing HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases.

UPDATE: See jump for Planned Parenthood's response to the vote. But note particularly this part:

This bill is much broader than other state efforts to restrict women’s health funding. If enacted this legislation could prohibit public funds through the state for not only doctors who provide abortion, but anyone that refers for abortion, or contracts with an entity which does. That means, domestic violence shelters or rape crisis centers that provide referrals for abortion could be in danger of losing funding.

Jason Rapert and them, who worship the 2nd Amendment, kindly don't like the 1st Amendment when it comes to talking about stuff they don't like.

* SCHOOL ELECTIONS: The House today defeated legislation to move school elections to November. The vote was 32-42 and three not voting.

School elections are now held in September and generally restricted to school issues. Turnout is invariably light, even on tax increases, when compared with regular elections. School officials like the separate elections because they tend to draw only people who follow schools closely. The fear — or hope in some cases — is that broad participation in school elections in the years in which regular elections occur will bring reflexive anti-tax votes from people who have no children in schools.

The bill passed the Senate earlier.

* NONPARTISAN PROSECUTORS: The Senate approved a bill originating in the House to have prosecuting attorneys run for office on a non-partisan basis.

* AS CAPITOL ZONING TURNS: The bill by Republican Nate Bell of Mena to abolish the Capitol Zoning District Commission because he doesn't like its fence rule will be up in committee tomorrow. The downtown preservation community is organizing to protest this incursion on sound planning. Meanwhile, at least the hold on the commission's appropriation has been lifted and approved by both houses.

PLANNED PARENTHOOD RELEASE

Nearly fifty Planned Parenthood supporters lined the stairs to the Arkansas Senate Chambers today, yet the Senate went ahead and passed a broad measure to eliminate funding for STI and HIV prevention programs.

“Today’s vote is extremely disappointing for the thousands of teens who count on us for life saving prevention programs,” said Planned Parenthood of the Heartland President and CEO Jill June. “It’s disheartening that some extreme lawmakers would rather make a political statement against Planned Parenthood than support these vital prevention programs for our young people.”

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland receives two grants for HIV and Syphilis prevention programs and outreach. The programs provide medically accurate, age-appropriate information, including information about abstinence, to 2,000 women, men and teens. The grant funding is used solely for these important preventive education programs.

This bill is much broader than other state efforts to restrict women’s health funding. If enacted this legislation could prohibit public funds through the state for not only doctors who provide abortion, but anyone that refers for abortion, or contracts with an entity which does. That means, domestic violence shelters or rape crisis centers that provide referrals for abortion could be in danger of losing funding.

“Politics should never be put ahead of the health and well-being of our families. Arkansas deserves better than this,” concluded June.

Planned Parenthood has been a trusted health care provider and educator in Arkansas for more than 40 years.


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