The Arkansas Senate passed a bill yesterday that defunds Planned Parenthood and all other entities that provide abortions, refer patients to other abortion providers or contract with an abortion provider or referrer. (If you accidentally brush by an abortion provider on the sidewalk, you're banned from the state for life.) In all seriousness, that includes power companies, water companies, health insurers and medical suppliers — and a comprehensive sex education program in the state's public high schools.
Planned Parenthood doesn't receive any family planning money from the state, but the bill would axe a state-funded HIV and STI prevention program administered by Planned Parenthood in Arkansas public high schools. Darrell Seward, the assistant football coach and health education teacher at Little Rock Central High School, told Huffington Post that the program is invaluable to his students — and he feels that way EVEN THOUGH he is a Republican, probably because he doesn't have his anti-abortion blinders on, which we hear you get for free in the Senate.
"I would challenge any legislator or politician in the state of Arkansas or higher to set foot in my classroom and listen to the curriculum and walk out and say it's a bad program," he said. "This program has been one of the most well-received programs that our students have ever been engaged in. I am a Republican, but this is one issue I feel very strongly about, because I see the benefit for our kids."
In February, the Arkansas State Legislature passed an act that would ban abortions after 12 weeks of gestation — it's one of the most extreme abortion bans on the country. Clearly, the Senate believes blocking access to reproductive health should take precedence over all other initiatives, including teaching kids how not to get pregnant. Perhaps that's why Arkansas has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country.