LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KARK) – A new state law on the books affects how sex education will be taught in Arkansas public schools.
Act 820, known as the “Arkansas Student Protection Act,” will not allow any public school in the state to have any kind of relationship with an organization that offers abortions.
This means organizations like Planned Parenthood have officially been given the boot.
The law signed by Governor Hutchinson effective Wednesday eliminates any kind of relationship between public schools and entities that provide abortions.
All this while Arkansas ranks number one in the nation for teen births and number two in the nation for teen pregnancies.
Republican Representative Mark Lowery wrote the bill that Governor Hutchinson signed into law, stopping organizations like Planned Parenthood from offering sex education in our schools because Planned Parenthood provides abortions.
“I don’t believe that…an organization that has that mindset checks that at the door,” said Rep. Mark Lowery.
Lowery says he understands Planned Parenthood offers many other services aside from abortions.
“But the truth is, their main revenue generator is providing abortions,” Lowery said. “And we believe that should be stopped in terms of that kind of relationship with our public schools.”
Lowery says this new law is all about protecting students.
But Planned Parenthood begs to differ.
“I think it sends a message that comprehensive sex ed is not something that the legislature or the governor prioritizes,” said Gloria Pedro of Planned Parenthood.
Pedro says this is just an effort to push them out.
“Our students should not be stripped of basic education because of our legislators’ political agendas,” Pedro said.
Planned Parenthood did have sex educators in various schools across Arkansas. Now, they’ve been kicked out, despite the state’s alarming statistics:
Arkansas has the third highest infant mortality rate in the country.
Arkansas ranks highest in the nation for teen birth rates among females ages 15 to 19. This is a statistic the state has held for the past four years.
“And I think those numbers show just how desperate that accurate and medically sound information is needed,” Pedro said. “The focus here is on education and students and they’re the ones who are going to be hurt by this.”
Rep. Lowery says there are other organizations that schools can contract with to provide sex education.
Planned Parenthood says most sex education being offered in the state is based on abstinence.
They say the statistics show clearly that the current model isn’t working.