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President Trump asks SCOTUS to block release of his tax returns; use of the death penalty is on the decline across the country; and a push to make nutrition part of the health-care debate.

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Former MA Gov. Deval Patrick is officially running for president, saying he can attract more Independents and moderate Republicans than other candidates.

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Judge Rules AR Can Block Medicaid Funding to Planned Parenthood

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a law banning morning-after pills in Arkansas earlier this year. (Geoff Livingston/Flickr)
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a law banning morning-after pills in Arkansas earlier this year. (Geoff Livingston/Flickr)
August 1, 2018

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A federal judge who previously prevented Arkansas from blocking Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood on Tuesday said she won't issue a new ruling requiring the state to resume the funding.

At the same time, national groups have launched a new partnership to ensure that lower-income women and women of color have equal access to health care, particularly those who are pregnant or postpartum.

Christian Adams, membership and development coordinator for the reproductive-rights group SisterSong, said they've observed that laws in Arkansas and other southern states can present barriers to care.

"We want to specifically make sure that we're staying connected to our southern movement leaders," she said, "that we're staying connected to what's going on overall in our southern states."

SisterSong has partnered with the Omega Phi Beta Sorority to advance efforts to protect reproductive rights for all women.

Arkansas' maternal death rate is third-highest in the nation, at 35 deaths per 100,000 live births. By working with college students and in communities, Adams said, the groups hope to spread awareness of the need for equal access to care.

Arkansas is the only state to ban the so-called "morning-after" pill, and has a 24-hour waiting period for an abortion, both of which Adams said present challenges for women already facing a difficult decision.

"Sometimes, women may not have a ride back to a facility, or they may have issues that come up with child care," she said. "So, they've already planned, and go to one of these clinics – and then unfortunately, they're told they have to wait the 24-hour period."

Supporters of waiting periods for abortions have argued that they're necessary for women to explore all their options.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - AR