Planned Parenthood Great Plains, which has two health clinics in Arkansas, has announced plans to campaign against the Texas-style abortion ban, which uses vigilante action to sidestep the abortion rights protection of Roe v. Wade.

From its announcement:

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Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes announced today it is launching an aggressive campaign in Arkansas and is making major investments to prevent extremist Arkansas legislators from passing an unconstitutional Texas-style abortion ban.

The majority of Arkansans oppose this type of extreme legislation in their home state. But despite that, Senator Rapert has said “what Texas has done is absolutely awesome,” that he wants to “go further” with his own legislation, and that his goal is to end all abortion in Arkansas without any exceptions. Rapert has announced that he will introduce his own copycat bill when the legislature returns for a special session on October 25.

“Everyone has seen the devastating impact of Texas’ abortion ban on people in need of care, and now, Arkansas legislators are threatening to push through an unconstitutional ban specifically modeled on the Texas law. This would be a full-scale assault on Arkansas patients, their health care providers, and their support systems,” said Emily Wales, interim president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes. “If this bill becomes law, many Arkansans will not be able to access abortion unless they can afford to travel hundreds of miles out of state, take time off work, and arrange child care and transportation. Others will be forced to carry pregnancies to term against their will, and the impact on Arkansas’ maternal mortality and morbidity crises — which is already one of the worst in the nation — will be dire. We must keep abortion bans out of our state.”

Since the Texas law, SB 8, took effect on September 1st, abortion has become virtually inaccessible in the state, leaving patients scared and confused. Texas abortion providers continue to get flooded with calls from people trying to figure out what they can do and where they can turn for abortion care. Hundreds of Texans are forced to either carry their pregnancy against their will or travel hundreds of miles out of state to access an abortion, all in the middle of a global pandemic.

Over the next few weeks, Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes is launching an aggressive statewide campaign to defeat this dangerous Texas copycat bill in Arkansas:

Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes has hired additional organizing and communications staff, focused on this effort.

Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes will be reaching out to more than 20,000 Arkansans to discuss what’s at stake with this dangerous legislation.

Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes will be hosting in person and virtual events across the state over the next few weeks to educate Arkansans about this dangerous and unconstitutional ban.

“Not only are extremist politicians in the Arkansas legislature pushing for a ban on abortion at approximately six weeks, but in the midst of a global pandemic, they’re plotting to prioritize this abortion ban as ‘emergency’ legislation,” said Gloria Pedro, Manager of Public Policy and Organizing at Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes. “At a time when we should be doing everything we can to expand access to health care, Senator Rapert is pushing a dangerous and backwards agenda that does exactly the opposite. Anti-abortion politicians have been trying to restrict access to reproductive health care for decades, but Planned Parenthood remains open, and we are committed to doing everything in our power to protect access to a full range of health services for all Arkansans.”

Governor Hutchinson is expected to announce a special session beginning Oct. 25 on his proposal to cut the state income tax, with a reduction in the top tax bracket that will primarily accrue to the benefit of the wealthy. He has so far said he intends only to include the income tax in his call, but the legislature by a two-thirds vote could open the session to other topics.

Legal battles continue against the Texas law, which effectively nullifies Roe v. Wade and the U.S. Supreme Court, now in control by anti-abortion justices, has allowed that to continue despite the effective override of a half-century of court precedent.

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The Texas law bans abortion when cardiac activity is detected, as early as five weeks in pregnancy, but the wrinkle it is enforced in a civil action by private citizens, so the state so far has not been successfully sued over the law. A similar abortion ban was adopted in Arkansas, criminally enforced, by struck down by a federal court.

In Arkansas, Planned Parenthood provides pharmaceutical abortion at one of its two health clinics. It is a two-pill regimen that causes a miscarriage. It is a regimen that is increasingly being provided by mail to women seeking to avoid onerous state restrictions on abortion.

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