- Associated Press - Thursday, March 26, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas lawmakers on Thursday voted to cut off any public funding to abortion providers and entities that refer women to abortion providers, a move that’s aimed at blocking money Planned Parenthood has received for sex education programs.

By a 70-8 vote, the Republican-controlled House backed the prohibition, which would also apply to “affiliates” of entities that perform abortions or referrals. The measure now heads to Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s desk.

The proposal is nearly identical to a proposal that stalled in the Legislature two years ago. The proposal does not apply to Medicaid funding.

Arkansas already has a constitutional amendment barring public money funding abortions, except to save the life of the mother, but supporters of the new restriction have argued the state is indirectly funding the procedure with grants to Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood isn’t currently receiving any money from the state, but last year received $35,000 in grants for sex education and sexually transmitted disease prevention programs.

The group has in the past warned that such restrictions threaten public money that domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers and doctors receive if they refer women to abortion providers.

The proposal is among several abortion restrictions that have easily advanced in Arkansas since Republicans expanded their majorities in the Legislature and won the governor’s office in the November election.

Hutchinson has signed into law two measures placing restrictions on the abortion pill, one that would ban the use of telemedicine to administer the drug and another that would require doctors to follow the Food and Drug Administration protocols. The Senate earlier Thursday approved new adding new restrictions state law requiring parental consent before a minor can have an abortion in most instances.

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