Arizona Takes Fight to De-Fund Planned Parenthood to Appeals Court

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 27, 2012   |   2:01PM   |   Phoenix, AZ

Arizona has appealed a federal judge’s ruling against a law the legislature approved to stop taxpayer funding of the Planned Parenthood abortion business. In October, a District Court Judge Neil Wake issued a temporary injunction after Planned Parenthood sued over the law, a lawsuit the Obama administration supported.

At the time, Arizona Solicitor General David Cole said the judge’s ruling “did not come as a shock.”

“It’s not the result we would have hoped, but it’s not a ruling on the merits,” Cole told Reuters, noting that a hearing on the issues in the case would be held in early December.

Now, the state has appealed the ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn the decision, which prevents the state from stopping taxpayer dollars from flowing to the nation’s biggest abortion business.

On the day of the decision, Bryan Howard, the president of Planned Parenthood Arizona, called the ruling “a victory for poor women” in the state. With the ruling, their health care will not be interrupted while the case moves forward, he said.

“Today’s ruling affirms what we have said all along: no woman should ever have to fear being cut off from her doctor’s care because of shortsighted political games,” Howard said in a statement.

The Whole Woman’s Health Funding Priority Act of Arizona (HB 2800) de-funded abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood of state family planning money. The bill is based on model legislation developed by the SBA List and the Alliance Defense Fund, and prioritizes family planning funds away from abortion-centered businesses like Planned Parenthood to entities that provide women with comprehensive health care.

The measure prohibits the state or any local government from using public money to contract with an organization that includes abortions.

In filing with the court, the Obama Administration told Wake that a law approved earlier this year aimed specifically at cutting off taxpayer funding to the abortion business via the state’s funding of family planning programs is against the law. Assistant Attorney General Joseph Mead claims Arizona shouldn’t be picking who receives funding with federal Medicare tax money it receives.

Arizona Solicitor General David Cole disagrees and says Federal laws have always allowed states to establish “meaningful provider qualifications” and that de-funding Planned Parenthood fits within that power. Cole said Planned Parenthood could get family planning funds if it divorces its family planning services from its abortion business.

The abortion company sued the state of Arizona after its pro-life governor, Jan Brewer, signed the de-funding bill.

When she signed the bill into law, Brewer said in a statement:  “This is a common-sense law that tightens existing state regulations and closes loopholes in order to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not used to fund abortions, whether directly or indirectly. By signing this measure into law, I stand with the majority of Americans who oppose the use of taxpayer funds for abortion.”

The Susan B. Anthony List slammed the lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood, America’s largest abortion provider, seeking to block the state of Arizona from enacting the law.

“Arizona taxpayers have spoken through their elected representatives – they do not want their tax dollars going to abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood, which performs more than 330,000 abortions a year,” said Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “The Whole Woman’s Health Funding Priority Act is pro-woman legislation that recognizes that women deserve access to comprehensive health care, not abortion. We are confident that the will of the people not to fund the abortion industry will prevail in court.”

Senior Counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom Steven Aden added:  “The precious tax dollars of the people of Arizona should not be funneled to abortionists, especially during tough economic times. The members of the Arizona Legislature have worded a bill that allows them to be good stewards of the people’s money in this regard.  It’s no surprise that Planned Parenthood would oppose that in light of their ongoing thirst for taxpayer dollars.”

In six previous cases, the Obama administration has overridden the decision of a state to revoke taxpayer funding for the Planned Parenthood abortion business.



Indiana: The Obama Administration threatened to pull $4.3 billion in Medicaid funding from the state after the legislature voted to defund Planned Parenthood. (June 2011)

New Hampshire: The Obama Administration contracted directly with Planned Parenthood after the state’s elected Executive Council voted to defund Planned Parenthood. (September 2011)

North Carolina: The Obama administration usurped the will of the North Carolina legislature by awarding $426,000 in federal grants directly to Planned Parenthood affiliates in the state.

Texas: The Obama Administration pulled $30 million in Medicaid waiver funds from Texas after the state legislature voted to defund Planned Parenthood from the waiver program. (March 2012)

Tennessee: The Obama Administration bypassed elected officials in Tennessee and contracted directly with Planned Parenthood after they were defunded by the state. (July 2012)

New Jersey: The Obama Administration awarded $3.1 million in federal funds to Planned Parenthood affiliates and other family planning groups in New Jersey, bypassing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s veto of state funding. (July 2012)

In 2011, eight states successfully defunded Planned Parenthood of more than $61.7 million — including Texas, New Hampshire, and Indiana. Ohio, Iowa, and Oklahoma have taken on Planned Parenthood’s tax funding, in addition to Arizona this year.