September 29, 2016
Little Rock, AR – Just now, a federal district court ruled to protect Medicaid patients’ right to access birth control, cancer screenings, and other essential health services through Planned Parenthood of the Heartland health centers in Arkansas. This comes one week after a similar ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit protecting Medicaid patients in Louisiana.
“This is a win for the Arkansans who rely on Planned Parenthood of the Heartland for birth control, cancer screenings, and other essential health care. Every person deserves access to quality, affordable health care from the provider they know and trust, and today, the court recognized that,” said Suzanna de Baca, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Heartland. “For our patients, it’s not about politics. It’s about their health, and about going to the health care provider they know and trust. Governor Hutchinson has no business telling Arkansas women where they can and cannot go for essential care.”
"Everyone deserves access to care and the opportunity to control their own reproductive health,” said Rita Sklar, executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas. “The high-quality reproductive health care Planned Parenthood provides is vital to the communities they serve, especially here in Arkansas which has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation, contributing to the fact that nearly 1 in 5 people live below the federal poverty level.”
Today’s ruling extends the previously issued preliminary injunction, which included only the three individual co-plaintiffs, to apply to all Medicaid patients seeking care at Planned Parenthood of the Heartland in Arkansas. The injunction will remain in place while the case proceeds.
Earlier this year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued guidance to lawmakers in all 50 states, once again making it clear that recent politically motivated efforts to block Planned Parenthood patients from accessing care through Medicaid violates long-standing federal law.
Planned Parenthood of the Heartland is Arkansas’ leading women’s health care provider, advocate and trusted nonprofit source of quality health care and information. Planned Parenthood of the Heartland has two health centers in Arkansas, located in Little Rock and Fayetteville. In a single year, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland health centers in Arkansas provide approximately 4,400 patients high-quality reproductive health services including well-woman exams, life-saving cancer screenings, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, HIV testing and risk reduction counseling, a full range of FDA-approved birth control methods, pregnancy testing and options counseling, and other preventive health services; and a significant proportion of these patients in Arkansas receive this care through Medicaid.
Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and its three patient co-plaintiffs are being represented by lawyers from Planned Parenthood Federation of America and American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas.
Planned Parenthood of the Heartland (PPHeartland) has served women and men of all ages since the 1930s. Today the organization offers a full range of quality reproductive health care services to residents in Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska and eastern Oklahoma through 17 health centers and Education Resource Centers in Des Moines, Lincoln and Omaha.
For nearly 100 years, the ACLU has been our nation’s guardian of liberty, working in courts, legislatures, and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and the laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country. Whether it’s achieving full equality for the LGBT community, establishing new privacy protections for our digital age, ending mass incarceration, or preserving the right to vote or the right to have an abortion, the ACLU takes up the toughest civil liberties cases and issues to defend all people from government abuse and overreach. With more than a million members, activists, and supporters, the ACLU is a nationwide organization that fights tirelessly in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C., for the principle that every individual’s rights must be protected equally under the law, regardless of race, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, or national origin.