LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas lawmakers approved setting aside in $1 million in state funds Thursday for private pregnancy resource centers that discourage pregnant women from getting an abortion.
The majority-Republican House approved by a 75-19 vote legislation creating a grant program for the centers, which provide services to women with unintended pregnancies but do not perform abortions or refer women to abortion providers. The Senate approved the measure a day earlier, and it now heads to GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s desk.
The measure was approved with two House Republicans joining Democrats in opposing the one-time funding for the facilities. GOP opponents noted that some of the centers in the state have said they don’t want the funding, and worried that the state could make the money conditional.
“We do not need to fund this request because, ultimately, we’ll come back and another set of legislators will be here and they’ll say, ‘you’re going to have do this or you’re going to have to do that,’” Rep. Jim Wooten, one of two Republicans to vote against the bill, said before the vote.
The funding increase comes after a wave of abortion restrictions enacted in Arkansas last year, including a near-total ban on the procedure that’s been blocked by a federal judge.