You may have seen the social media posts yesterday from people sharing how contraception helped change their lives for the better. Wednesday marked the ninth annual Thanks, Birth Control Day, meant to educate the public on the perks and possibilities of family planning.
Planned Parenthood, with its newly opened Rogers location and its tried and true clinic in Little Rock, marked the day by working to make sure everyone in Arkansas knows they can still access birth control, along with other family planning services.
With abortion rights under attack on multiple fronts, Planned Parenthood Great Plains CEO Emily Wales said it was an important time to reassure patients. One in five women in the United States have used Planned Parenthood services, she said. And patients made 6,700 visits to Planned Parenthood in Arkansas last year.
“Arkansas politicians have been trying to close our health centers for decades, but we are still open, providing accurate information, non-judgemental help and a full array of healthcare services, including abortion care,” Wales said.
Dr. Janet Cathey, a physician provider with Planned Parenthood in Arkansas, said political attacks on abortion rights are causing fear and confusion.
“I’m here today to let Arkansans know that regardless of politics, regardless of what headlines they read, Planned Parenthood is here for our patients, and our doors are open.”
She said this is the most challenging time she’s seen for patients to get reproductive health care, either because it’s priced out of reach or simply because the system is complicated to navigate.
And the political feud over abortion rights creates a chilling effect of fear and confusion, making it all the harder for women seeking out abortion care, Wales said.
Confusion over current law is part of the problem. Abortion is legal in Arkansas, and Planned Parenthood provides medication abortions at its Little Rock clinic, up to 10 weeks after a woman’s last period. They plan to offer medication abortions in Rogers beginning in the spring. Surgical abortions are available in the state up to 20 weeks.
Thanks, Birth Control Day is an annual event headed up by the nonprofit Power to Decide, which aims to make sure anyone who wants access to birth control can get it.