Condom watch | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Condom watch

Posted By on Wed, Apr 1, 2009 at 4:38 PM

A tipster has provided me a copy of an amendment drafted for inclusion (at the 11th hour) as special language in a state Education Department appropriation bill. It says: "STATE FUND RESTRICTIONS. No state funds shall be used for the  purchase or dispensing of contraceptives or abortifacients in public schools. No state funds shall be used for abortion referral in public schools. Any programs in the public schools that are offered or staffed by Department of Education employees shall comply with these restrictions and those contained in Ark. Code Section 6-18-709."

Well. Sen. Gilbert Baker, father of, what, eight, and a dedicated Religious Righter, was said to be behind this surreptitious little stinker. It will be taken up in Joint Budget, which he co-chairs. I asked him if he was behind this.

He replied:

"No, there is some language that apparently was agreed to during negotiations on the cig tax, (I was not in that loop), that assured current law would be followed related to abortion and contraceptive funding."

So the web is tangled. If not Baker, who? The governor? I have a question in to that office. The state Education Department said it did not approve of this special language and had no role in its drafting.

And here's the wrinkle. If Baker is telling the truth, he was told wrong by whoever is pushing this no-condoms agenda. The existing law does NOT prohibit distribution of contraceptives in schools, as this amendment would seemingly do. State funds are most assuredly used in every school in Arkansas and thus any distributions there would seem to be outlawed by this amendment. If this is only to put a ban on newly funded programs, it reads a great deal more broadly than that. And why should any new programs be further restricted than existing law?

The existing law says that school clinics may be established by school boards and that, if they distribute contraceptives, they may do so only after written parental permission.

The Education Department is rounding up information on what, if any, school clinics may still exist that dispense condoms. The Huckabee administration did all it could to end any family planning help everywhere in state government, rolling back advancements of the Elders-Clinton era.

Did Beebe really agree to a stealth law to prohibit condom distribution even by school districts willing to do so and with full knowledge and permission of parents?

UPDATE: Matt Decample, the governor's spokesman, said the governor had no role in the special languageI described. He said discussions during the course of the tobacco taxconcerned assurances that any new money would be spent under terms of existing law -- with restrictions on, but no prohibition of, spending on contraceptives in schools. "The governor made no agreeemtn related to contraceptives, outside of current law. There are detailed regsulations already in place that must be followed. We have no desire to change those."

That seemed to be Baker's understanding. Perhaps this amendment's wording is simply inartful and not intended to do what it appears to do, ban contraceptives in schools. But given the attacks and fanciful legal arguments the Religious Right has waged on family plannings issues through the years, I think it would be far safer to be sure that the amendment says no more than it needs to say: expenditures shall comply with Code Section 6-18-703. Period.

Perhaps this whistle blowing will catch someone's attention.

Sign up for the Daily Update email

Comments (19)

Showing 1-19 of 19

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-19 of 19

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • PS: Casino amendment includes sports betting

    A casino gambling amendment now cleared for the gathering of petitions to qualify for the ballot could bring sports wagering to casinos if approved.
    • May 24, 2018
  • An open line and daily news summary

    Here's the daily roundup of news and comment, plus your opportunity at an open discussion.
    • May 24, 2018
  • Let the debate challenges begin

    Democrat Josh Mahony challenges Thrid District Rep. Steve Womack to a series of debates beforre their November general election contest.
    • May 24, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Trump immigration protest at LR: Quick and fierce

    It was not even 24 hours ago that Sophia Said, director of the Interfaith Center; City Director Kathy Webb and others decided to organize a protest today of Donald Trump's executive order that has left people from Muslim countries languishing in airports or unable to come to the US at all — people with visas, green cards,a  post-doc graduate student en route to Harvard, Google employees abroad, families. I got the message today before noon; others didn't find out until it was going on. But however folks found out, they turned out in huge numbers, more than thousand men, women and children, on the grounds of the state Capitol to listen to speakers from all faiths and many countries.
    • Jan 29, 2017
  • Arkansas legislature rejects bipartisan effort to study race relations

    On Friday, the Arkansas Legislative Council soundly rejected a bipartisan effort by two senators to to create a temporary legislative subcommittee to study race relations in the state.
    • Sep 15, 2017
  • Campus gun bill clears committee

    The so-called compromise amendment that will allow anyone 25 or older with a training certificate carry a concealed weapon on public college campuses was approved in a Senate committee this afternoon.
    • Feb 21, 2017

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments



© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation