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Court of Appeals agrees: Arizona’s law defunding Planned Parenthood can’t stand

GOP candidates agree to return some Ariz. fundingThe 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled today the Legislature cannot prevent state funding from going to Planned Parenthood, as lawmakers attempted to do with a law passed in in 2012.

The ruling upholds district court decision in July of last year.

A three-member panel of judges affirmed the district court’s summary judgment and injunction against the law and dismissed an appeal of the district court’s preliminary injunction against the law.

The law was sponsored by Rep. Justin Olson of Mesa but was enjoined before it could go into effect.   It would have barred the state from contracting with or making a grant to any entity that performs abortions or maintains an abortion facility. The law directly targeted Planned Parenthood by making it ineligible to get funding for non-abortion services.

Laws already prohibit any public money, including federal money, from being used for abortion services unless it is necessary to save the mother’s life or in cases of rape or incest.

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

But supporters of the law argued any taxpayer dollars that go to Planned Parenthood indirectly subsidize its abortion services and if tax dollars go to groups that perform abortions in addition to offering other health services, it “frees up” more money for abortion.

In the opinion, Judge Marsha S. Berzon wrote that the law violated the federal Medicaid Act’s free-choice-of-provider requirement.  She said it unlawfully prevented Arizona Medicaid patients from using medical providers qualified to perform family planning services “solely on the basis that those providers separately perform privately funded, legal abortions.”

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