Arkansas’s first environmental education state park interprets the importance of the natural world and our place within it.
I don't know what if anything might arise or be planned in the future relative to Gov. Asa Hutchinson's order to end Medicaid reimbursement for medical services (not abortion) provided by Planned Parenthood in Arkansas. But some observations:
Note that I didn't say end state "funding." This suggests discretionary financial support, which payments to Planned Parenthood are not. They are reimbursement for medical services (not abortion), mostly funded by federal tax dollars, which Arkansas is sent well in excess of our contribution to the federal treasury.
Hutchinson has taken up the interposition posture of Orval Faubus. Courts and federal Medicaid rules be damned — this is one area of medical practice in which a woman will NOT be able to choose from all willing providers.
You could say the governor merely reacted politically to serve the fringe in his party. But that gives him more credit than he is due here. He's acting on his own faith and imposing it on others who don't share it and claiming he speaks for all of our values in doing so. It's patronizing as well as inaccurate. The governor is using the tools of the state to punish those with different political and religious viewpoints.
It is an offense to the First Amendment — government action to harm an agency and clients who have done nothing wrong. The problem is that the agency, in addition to numerous important health services, provides a legal medical service — abortion — that is at variance with the governor's religion. When it does so — with a drug used only in the first eight to nine weeks of pregnancy, the state does not pay. Even the limited engagement by Planned Parenthood elsewhere (it does not do so in Arkansas) in providing fetal material for research is legal. Selling it is not. As yet, no proof has emerged of illegal transactions.
So, again: The governor has proposed to end a legal contract for legal services with a health provider guilty in Arkansas of engaging in a legal practice of which the ruling party disapproves. He has done so with disregard to due process and evidence, acting only on the edited representations of an anti-abortion group. (They are, again, irrelevant to Planned Parenthood medical services in Arkansas — cancer and sexual disease screening, contraception.)
If Arkansas values really are at issue here, let's consider a case in which we know a state actor did something that now is a bright-letter violation of Arkansas law and yet he continues to receive state funding. I refer to Rep. Justin Harris, whose religious-oriented preschool in West Fork has received millions of dollars in state funding, despite a variety of practices that appear to run counter to constitutional guidelines. But there are no appearances to discuss in the case of his throwaway children, adopted and then put into the home of a child molester. That is fact, an episode so shocking the legislature moved swiftly to outlaw the practice in which he engaged. Are throwaway children an Arkansas value? Should those who engage in it — and other questionable child-rearing practices, based on multiple accounts — be rewarded by continuing government support?
Gov. Hutchinson, if you believe in Arkansas values, as expressed in recent legislation, you'd end government funding for Growing God's Kingdom, the Harris family religious-oriented pre-school.
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