LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Biden-Harris administration should roll back federal restrictions on women’s reproductive rights that were put in place under the Trump administration. But expert observers say the new composition of the United States Supreme Court and the conservative legislatures of states like Arkansas will have considerable influence.
Arkansas is one of a handful of states with so-called “trigger” laws, ready to immediately ban all or nearly all abortions if the United States Supreme Court overturns the “Roe v. Wade ”. Elizabeth Nash of the Guttmacher Institute sized up the situation.
“In conservatively controlled states,” Nash said, “expect to see the same, especially as policymakers predict that the United States Supreme Court will dismantle abortion rights.”
This year, Governor Asa Hutchinson also issued an executive order that included abortion on a list of elective procedures that require patients to have a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of receiving care. The order was contested by reproductive rights groups.
And while the spotlight is often on abortion, Nash said access to contraception is also on the radar of state lawmakers.
She said the Trump administration made it easier for employers and schools to deny insurance coverage for contraceptives and imposed new restrictions on the national family planning program Title Ten.
“Other issues potentially on the legislative agenda are policies that allow pharmacists to dispense contraceptives without the patient first obtaining a prescription,” Nash said, “so patients can go directly to at the pharmacy to get contraceptives, such as the pill, patch and ring. “
She added that Medicaid is essential to ensure that low-income women have access to contraception as part of their health coverage. She noted that although Arkansas has expanded Medicaid, ongoing legal attacks on the Affordable Care Act could weaken or eliminate the expansion.
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