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Bill seeks to stop Planned Parenthood funding

In this Jan. 23 file photo, Bryan Howard, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona, Inc., stands out in front of a Planned Parenthood facility in Tucson. The Senate Health Care and Medical Liability Reform Committee voted March 15 to cut off state funding of Planned Parenthood and other organizations that perform abortions, in addition to other health services. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

The Republican-controlled Senate today gave preliminary approval to a bill targeting Planned Parenthood’s funding.

The measure, HB2800, still needs the chamber’s full vote, which is likely to take place next week.

The proposal prohibits the state from contracting with any entity that performs an abortion or runs a facility where abortions are performed.

The measure also requires public money for family planning to only go to certain places, such as state-owned health care centers and rural hospitals. The bill specifies their order of priority.

Democrats decried the proposal as an attack not only on Planned Parenthood but also on low-income women.

“The real problem with this piece of legislation is that poor women are made pawns in the efforts to close the doors of Planned Parenthood,” said Sen. Linda Lopez, a Democrat from Tucson.

But Sen. Nancy Barto, a close ally of the Evangelical Christian and Catholic lobbies, said no care is diminished under the legislation.

Barto also said the proposal furthers the intent of federal and state laws that preclude taxpayer money from being used for abortion services.

“Giving funds to agencies that provide limited care and emphasize abortion is not in keeping with the intent of Congress or Arizona,” Barto said.

The bill seeks to accomplish what social conservatives and their allies in Congress have failed to do — to prevent federal funds from going to Planned Parenthood, which performs abortion but also offers other health services, including gynecological exams, testing for sexually-transmitted diseases and breast cancer screenings.

Planned Parenthood’s critics have waged a campaign to defund the group and make it as tough as possible for it to keep its clinics open.

Arizona laws already prohibit any public funds, including federal funds, from being used for an abortion services unless it is necessary to save the mother’s life.

Public money may also not be used to pay for a health insurance that provides for abortion services.

But Rep. Justin Olson, the bill’s sponsor, earlier said any taxpayer dollars that go to Planned Parenthood indirectly subsidizes its abortion services.

Olson said if tax dollars go to groups that perform abortions in addition to offering other health services, then it “frees up” more money for abortion.

Planned Parenthood rejected the notion that public funds are indirectly subsiding abortion services.

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