UPDATE: Lie back and enjoy it, Arkansas. Abortion access is no more.

UPDATE: Lie back and enjoy it, Arkansas. Abortion access is no more.
Brian Chilson
IN RESPONSE: A demonstrator at the Arkansas Capitol today.

UPDATED with information from Planned Parenthood Great Plains and the Arkansas Family Council.

The Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision today, and Arkansas Republicans were ready with a trigger law to shoot down abortion access almost completely. The ban, almost instantly in effect, blocks reproductive choice even for victims of rape and incest. It’s your fault if you can’t keep your knees together, regardless of how hard you tried, apparently.

Arkansas is one of 13 states where blowhard conservatives already passed a trigger law to stop virtually all abortions in the state as soon as the U.S. Supreme Court justices said boo. Another 13 states are expected to take similar draconian measures any minute, meaning abortion care is likely to be off the table in 26 U.S. states.

Protesters at the Little Rock Family Planning Clinic, the only clinic in the state that provides surgical abortion care, were snapping photos of cars coming in and out of the clinic lot this morning, some of them yelling that abortions are now illegal. That was not technically true: Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge had to first review the Supreme Court opinion and greenlight the state’s trigger law before it could go into effect, and that wasn’t slated to happen until 2 p.m.

Clinic escort Rachel Marsala used her rainbow umbrella and quick reflexes to block their shots, her nimble moves worthy of a “Singing in the Rain” cameo.

Other women’s advocates in Little Rock also look to be hurling themselves into this next dark era with rage and determination. They’ve been training for this since a draft opinion leaked in May, although the more prescient among them have been stockpiling Plan B and raising money to support women needing help accessing abortion care out of state long before that.

The Arkansas Abortion Support Network, which provides financial help for people in need of abortion care and plans to help cover transportation and lodging costs that will be now be required to get people to states that have not outlawed abortion, posted word of a protest planned for this evening.

Natural State Republicans have been gleefully rubbing their hands together in anticipation of today’s decision, and of course many of them couldn’t resist a victory lap. The Family Council, champions of a bastardization of Christianity that would make Jesus himself cover his face in shame, held a presser this morning. Director Jerry Cox held firm that women and girls (Yes, girls. He used the word multiple times) who are victims of rape or incest should not have abortion access. He called on Arkansas lawmakers to send $4 million more to crisis pregnancy centers, which is strange because aren’t they just set up to trick women out of getting abortions? If the abortion issue is moot in Arkansas, maybe funding quality healthcare for pregnant women would be a better priority, especially considering our already pathetic maternal mortality rates.

Brian Chilson
Arkansas Family Council Director Jerry Cox and his colleagues celebrated the end to abortion access in Arkansas, even for victims of rape and incest.

Planned Parenthood, which operates medical clinics in Little Rock and Fayetteville that provide medicinal abortions in the first eight to 10 weeks of pregnancy, is meeting today to discuss the future. Its only immediate option for linking women to abortion care will to be increase support for women get to states where abortion remains legal. Long-term contraceptives are another area of medical care that will get increased attention. However, abortion foes contend some forms of contraception, such as the IUD, go counter to their religious beliefs, which are driving this debate. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was already making some noise Friday about whether access to contraceptives is really a guaranteed right, and suggesting the Supreme Court should consider the issue, along with same-sex marriage.

In an emotional call this afternoon, leadership from Planned Parenthood Great Plains, the Planned Parenthood region that covers Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas, said they’ve been preparing for this day. Still, they acknowledged those preparations can’t mitigate the damage. Because of trigger laws, Kansas is the only state in the region where abortion rights will still exist after today.

“I am a woman who lives in Missouri, and I am not equal before the law after today,” Planned Parenthood Great Plains Director Emily Wales said.

Childbirth is 15 times more dangerous than abortion, and women’s health care will undoubtedly suffer, Planned Parenthood Great Plains medical director Iman Alsaden said.

Planned Parenthood will not be shutting its doors, but will pivot to help women control their reproductive lives in slightly different ways. Birth control prescriptions and other health care services are still on offer, Wales said.

“Our services may be forced to change, but our commitment to our patients will never change. We continue to trust and support our patients, even when the Supreme Court of the United States does not,” she said.

Another issue: This could have implications for in vitro fertilization.  Embryos are humans, right? Or so say those seeking to strip women of medical autonomy.

The post UPDATE: Lie back and enjoy it, Arkansas. Abortion access is no more. appeared first on Arkansas Times.

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