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NEW YORK – Marking a victory for Planned Parenthood’s patients, and the supporters in Arkansas who organized in opposition to anti-women’s health bills, the state legislature ended its session today without passing one of the broadest measures ever considered that would have blocked public health funds from Planned Parenthood and other health care providers who provide or even refer patients for safe and legal abortions.  

Planned Parenthood Action Fund said the victory in Arkansas, where unconstitutional abortion bans recently passed but are now being challenged in court, should serve as a warning to politicians in other states that efforts to limit access to preventive health care for the millions of women who count on Planned Parenthood health centers nationwide are too extreme.  

Statement from Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

“This is a victory for Planned Parenthood patients, and the supporters in Arkansas who demanded that legislators put politics aside and put women and families in Arkansas first.  People in Arkansas make it clear they would not tolerate attempts to cut off access to sex education or women’s basic, preventive health care.  

“The rest of the country should heed this message from Arkansas that the public believes every woman should be able to make personal, private health care decisions without interference from politicians.  Every woman, no matter what her zip code is, should have access to affordable, quality health care at the health care provider she trusts.”

BACKGROUND:

• Local Planned Parenthood supporters turned out in droves to voice their opposition to the legislature’s attacks on Arkansas women, placing more than 3,000 calls to their legislators over the last few months.  Planned Parenthood Federation of America, collaborating with Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, worked to educate constituents about the dangers of this legislation — reaching more than 20,000 Arkansans.   

• The attacks on women’s health in Arkansas have been so unpopular that in late March a group of hundreds of Arkansans rallied at the state capitol to demand better from their state legislators.

• Little Rock Central High School assistant football coach and health education teacher, Darrell Seward, said of the program threatened by the Arkansas bill: "I would challenge any legislator or politician in the state of Arkansas or higher to set foot in my classroom and listen to the curriculum and walk out and say it's a bad program. This program has been one of the most well-received programs that our students have ever been engaged in. I am a Republican, but this is one issue I feel very strongly about, because I see the benefit for our kids."

• Former Senator Blanche Lincoln said of the attacks on Arkansas women:  “Arkansas deserves better than this divisive agenda that will only lead to costly, lengthy litigation and diminished health care for our women and families.”

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