I'll be honest with you, I didn't see it coming.
When I sat down Wednesday in the Senate Committee on Public Health, I expected the all-Republican committee to forward SB 3 (unnecessary reporting requirements for abortion providers) to the full Senate. You can watch the recorded hearing online.
Then, something happened. One senator asked about the fiscal impacts of the bill...and then another. Then, a group of medical students presented a letter signed by more than fifty of their classmates opposing the proposed legislation.
In the end, we won a small victory. The committee decided not to take action on the bill until they get a fiscal impact statement from the Department of Health. It's not much — I still expect the bill to make it to the Senate floor — but every second we postpone one of these anti-choice bills is another second we get to fight back. It gives us more time to organize, to show up under the dome, and to make our voices heard.
If you have any questions about Lobby Day transportation, the schedule, or anything else, respond to this message and an organizer will get back to you with more information. As always, we're in for a busy week here at the capitol. I expect at least one other anti-choice bill to get a committee hearing (and this time, we might not be so lucky), and we might even see new anti-choice legislation filed.
I will keep you updated as the situation evolves. Watch this space.
Arkansas Manager of Public Policy & Organizing
Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes
With all of the excitement about SB 3 in this week's committee meeting, the other bills I am tracking haven't been considered by the committee. Yet. I expect SB 2 to be considered as soon as this week. SB 149 is likely to go back to the Senate floor for amendment before being considered. The Senate Public Health Committee meets at 10 a.m. on Wednesdays. As always, we'll livetweet relevant meetings on Twitter and you can stream the meetings live.
SB 2 (awaiting committee hearing): would stand in the way of a woman exercising her right to an abortion in the case of a diagnosis of fetal Down syndrome, while doing nothing to address discrimination or ensure that people living with disabilities have access to health care and other services they may need.
SB 149 (awaiting committee hearing): would trigger an abortion ban in the state if Roe v. Wade is overturned. Doctors who perform abortions would face up to ten years in prison, and there is no exception for rape or incest.
HB 1289 (awaiting committee hearing) was filed this week. It is similar to the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and it would expand the right of doctors not to participate in services that violate their conscience.
What Rapert's abortion bill doesn't say means trouble for women, Arkansas Times
“Rapert would provide unlimited protection for the fetus from the moment an egg is fertilized by sperm. It would require a woman to carry a pregnancy, no matter how ill-fated, to term if there was no medical consequence for her. [...] It is not a law about protecting women.”
Save the date for these upcoming events.
February 20, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. — PPGPV Arkansas Lobby Day at Christ Church and the Capitol
March 14, 6-8 p.m. — The Bash fundraiser for Planned Parenthood Great Plains at Fayetteville Town Center
May 1, 6-8 p.m. — Garden Party fundraiser for Planned Parenthood Great Plains in Little Rock
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