Planned Parenthood Great Plains Files Lawsuit Against Arkansas Department Of Health

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LITTLE ROCK (KFSM)-- Planned Parenthood Arkansas & Eastern Oklahoma, also known as Planned Parenthood Great Plains, as well as Little Rock Family Planning Services filed a lawsuit against Arkansas Department of Health Director and State Health Officer Nathaniel Smith.

The suit is about Act 383 which was passed in March and how it will change the licensing scheme for abortion clinics.

Currently, an abortion clinic will receive a Statement of Deficiencies after an inspection, which it then has to fix.

With Act 383, a clinic would no longer receive this statement.

Instead the Department of Health can deny, suspend or revoke a license for any violation of any law or rule.

In the lawsuit, both Planned Parenthood Great Plains said this act is an attack on abortion clinics.

The head sponsor of Act 383 disagrees and explained what she wanted to accomplish with her new piece of legislation.

“This act allows for or allows clinics to be clean spaces and to be randomly inspected, requires physicians to perform the abortions," Representative Robin Lundstrum said. "It isn’t really anything more exciting than that. Except its really important that a woman’s health be protected.”

She stressed that her act is all about keeping women healthy and safe when they go to abortion clinics.

“It’s not our jobs to keep the abortion facilities in business," Lundstrum said. "It’s our job as the Arkansas State Health Department to make sure they are clean and safe. So if they do have infractions or there is a problem, we need to know that and the law needs to address those issues.”

Planned Parenthood Great Plains laid out some of the deficiencies they have seen in their statements over the past five years.

They include alleged failure to document that the emergency contact list is updated every six months, failure to label the dates that disinfection monitoring supplies were opened or prepared and failure to remedy a torn cover on a piece of furniture.

It said in the suit that none of these or other deficiencies noted are a threat to their patient's health.

Planned Parenthood Great Plains worries that once this act goes into effect, their health centers will face immediate license suspension or revocation because minor deficiencies like the ones they have seen before.

The lawsuit also said that there is no support for the claim that the changes made to licensing scheme protects patient safety or health.

Rita Sklar with the ACLU released a statement about Act 383.

“Every day, women in Arkansas and across the United States struggle to get the care they need as lawmakers impose new ways to shut down clinics and make abortion unavailable," Sklar said. "Arkansas women cannot afford to lose further access.”

The act is scheduled to take effect on July 30.

A motion hearing for a summary judgement is scheduled for August 10.