Governor Asa Hutchinson Directs DHS To End Planned Parenthood Contract
LITTLE ROCK (KFSM) — Gov. Asa Hutchinson directed the Department of Human Services to terminate its existing Medicaid contracts with Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, which covers Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma, according to a release from his office.
It stated the termination will be effective 30 days from Friday (August 14).
In a statement, Hutchinson said:
“It is apparent that after the recent revelations on the actions of Planned Parenthood, that this organization does not represent the values of the people of our state and Arkansas is better served by terminating any and all existing contracts with them. This includes their affiliated organization, Planned Parenthood of Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma.
“I appreciate the legislature’s leadership on this important issue, especially that of Senator Eddie Joe Williams and Representative David Meeks.”
The requests from lawmakers are in response to secretly recorded videos released by an anti-abortion rights group showing Planned Parenthood officials describing how they provide aborted fetus tissue for medical research.
Planned Parenthood of the Heartland released the following statement regarding the governor’s directive:
“One this will never change: Planned Parenthood will do everything in our power to protect women’s access to health care in Arkansas. Our priority is and always will be providing high-quality and compassionate care to our patients.
Singling out Planned Parenthood and attempting to bar a woman’s access to our legal, constitutionally protected health care services is clearly a violation of the Medicaid statute that requires that a woman have her choice among qualified providers. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has warned officials in other states that it’s against the law to bar women from accessing care at Planned Parenthood because the organization provides safe, legal abortion. Similar laws have consistently been struck down.
This political grandstanding could have real and devastating consequences for women who rely on Planned Parenthood for birth control, cancer screenings, STD tests and other lifesaving care. The politicians behind these reckless policies have allied themselves with extremists who will stop at nothing to end access to abortion – breaking laws, pushing misinformation, and violence and harassment of women and doctors.”
The Arkansas House of Representatives Republican Caucus released the following statement on Saturday (Aug. 15) regarding the governor’s order:
“The House Republican Caucus concurs in the decision by Governor Hutchinson to end Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood.
The recent disclosure of the practice of marketing the body parts of unborn children is contrary to what most Arkansans believe is an acceptable practice. “The Arkansas Legislature recently passed Act 996 which prohibited direct payments to Planned Parenthood from state funds. We are pleased Governor Hutchinson has taken further steps to prevent this abhorrent practice.””
A letter from the director of Arkansas DHS to the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland states the organization can appeal the contract termination by filing a written appeal within 30 calendar days of the letter.
Medicaid funding is prohibited by law from being put toward abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or to protect the life of the mother.