Lawmakers approved legislation this year that threatens to pull funding from Planned Parenthood, and passed a law that requires physicians to do more to save fetuses that are “delivered alive.”
The measures are proof that Arizona has “a Legislature that defends life,” said Cathi Herrod, president of the Evangelical Christian lobby Center for Arizona Policy.
But health care advocates are troubled by a measure that directs the Arizona Department of Health Services to submit a grant application under Title X of the federal Public Health Service Act. Having been signed by Gov. Doug Ducey, Arizona is now effectively competing for federal family planning dollars that traditionally have gone to nonprofits based in the state.
One of those nonprofit groups, Arizona Family Health Partnership, has received most, if not all, of the Title X funds allocated for the state since 1983.
Last year, the group was granted approximately $4.5 million, and it distributed that money to six family planning entities that serve low income patients. One of the recipients is Planned Parenthood, and critics of SB1527 say it’s aimed at defunding the group.
Arizona Family Health Partnership CEO Bre Thomas and Jodi Liggett, vice president of public affairs at Planned Parenthood Arizona, said SB1527 is a direct hit on Planned Parenthood and its ability to provide health services.
Under the law, the state’s health services agency must distribute the grant money first to state or county-owned health care facilities, then to hospitals and federally qualified health centers, rural health clinics, and health care providers which offer required primary health services as enumerated in federal law.
Thomas and Liggett believe that, given the opportunity, the state would use the funding tiers in the bill to strip Title X dollars from Planned Parenthood.
That belief stems from lawmakers’ previous actions, notably legislation in 2012 that would have barred Arizona from making grants to health care groups that also perform abortion services. A federal district court struck down the law, a decision upheld by 9th Circuit Court. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the state’s appeal.
Lawmakers also approved SB1367, which requires doctors to try to keep a fetus alive if an abortion fails.
When a fetus is “delivered alive,” defined as any fetus regardless of its gestational age that shows breathing, a heartbeat, umbilical cord pulsation or “definite movement of voluntary muscles,” a physician must ensure “all available means and medical skills are used to promote, preserve and maintain the life of such a fetus or embryo.”
Even in instances where an abortion is performed because the fetus has been diagnosed with a lethal fetal condition, the bill requires an examination after delivery to confirm the diagnosis.
SB1367 also requires that, if a fetus is 20 weeks old and born alive, someone in the facility is designated to contact emergency services to arrange a transfer to a hospital, and one person in the room must be trained in neonatal resuscitation.
The bill also allows the mother, father or maternal grandparent (if the mother is younger than 18) to pursue a civil complaint based on a claim that the failure to use all available means and medical skills to save the fetus was the result of negligence or misconduct.
Center for Arizona Policy wins include education, anti-abortion bills
Behind the slew of socially conservative measures this session is the Center for Arizona Policy, which successfully pushed its agenda on education, abortion and public health.
CAP President Cathi Herrod said she is “thankful for a Legislature that defends life.”
Herrod said she was surprised at the controversy surrounding SB1367, which she said ensures that any fetus delivered alive “has a chance at life.” The bill requires that, in case of a live birth, doctors must ensure “all available means and medical skills are used to promote, preserve and maintain the life of such fetus or embryo.”
Herrod also described the passage of SB1431, which expanded eligibility for the Empowerment Scholarship Account program to all students in Arizona, as a victory. Under the bill, enrollment is capped each year.
“We want to support parents in making the decision about what school their children attend,” Herrod said, adding that her group supported a successful ballot measure last year that would provide public schools with an additional $3.5 billion over 10 years.
Ducey also signed HB2389, which directs the state, its agencies and local governments to treat all diplomas and transcripts equally when hiring employees, including homeschool diplomas.
The Center for Arizona Policy also pushed SB1439, which prohibits discrimination against health care entities or their employees if they refused to provide life-ending services, such as assisted suicide.
Another center-backed bill, SB1527, requires the Arizona Department of Health Services to apply for Title X or family planning funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. That grant money previously went to three groups: Arizona Family Health Partnership, Arizona Family Health Partnership (Navajo) and Gila River Health Care Corporation Family Planning Program.
A change in Title X grantees in Arizona could result in the state pulling funding from health care providers that offer abortion services.