Court: Arizona Can’t Stop Taxpayer Funding of Planned Parenthood Abortion Biz

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 23, 2013   |   2:49PM   |   Phoenix, AZ

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling today saying the state of Arizona can’t eliminate taxpayer funding for the Planned Parenthood abortion business. The court ruled the state is not eligible to cut the abortion giant from its Medicaid program simply because it terminates the lives of unborn babies in abortions.

From a report on the ruling:

The judges, in a 32-page ruling, said legislators acted contrary to federal law.

Thursday’s ruling affirms a trial court’s earlier decision. But attorney Steven Aden of the Alliance Defending Freedom, which asked the court to uphold the law on behalf of the state, said his organization is weighing future legal options.

In the meantime, Planned Parenthood continues to receive federal and state funds.

But Rep. Justin Olson, R-Mesa, contended that any funds Planned Parenthood receives for those services underwrites the fixed costs of keeping the doors open. And that, he argued, effectively has state dollars subsidizing abortions.

His legislation, approved last year and signed by Gov. Jan Brewer, spells out that any organization which provides abortions is ineligible for Medicaid dollars. Planned Parenthood responded to HB 2800 by filing suit.

Judge Marsha Berzon, writing for the unanimous three-judge panel, did not address the question of whether or not Medicaid dollars were subsidizing abortions.

Instead, she said, the issue comes down to a simple fact: Federal law allows those enrolled in Medicaid — and that includes the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System — to get the services from any qualified provider.

Aden and attorneys for the state conceded that point. But they argued that lawmakers are free to decide who is “qualified.”

In April, U.S. District Judge Neil Wake overturned a pro-life bill that, in part, allowed the state to opt out of funding the Planned Parenthood abortion business with taxpayer dollars.

At issue before the judge was a new Arizona law barring public funding for abortion agencies like Planned Parenthood. The Obama Administration is siding with Planned Parenthood in arguing that the new state law allegedly violates federal Medicaid requirements.

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 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.

After Judge Wake’s ruling overturning the law, Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser told LifeNews she was disappointed.

“Judge Wake’s ruling thwarts the will of Arizona taxpayers to stop funding big abortion businesses such as Planned Parenthood.  As a result, funds will be reduced for agencies that provide whole women’s health care. According to Planned Parenthood’s own annual report, its government subsidies have reached an all-time high, even as the number of cancer screenings and other prevention and contraceptive services they offer has dropped dramatically,” she said. “Planned Parenthood’s growing abortion toll, meanwhile, is evidence of their continued failure to show true concern for vulnerable women and girls.”

Dannenfelser added: “The overturned law would simply prioritize taxpayer funding for health care entities that provide comprehensive, whole-woman care.  Arizona women seeking family planning should be able to access this service at clinics that can meet other health needs for them and their families. The SBA List will not rest until the freedom of states to put whole women’s health first is once again recognized and protected.”

Governor Jan Brewer signed HB 2800 into law last May and Planned Parenthood immediately filed suit. In October, the Obama Department of Justice filed a brief in the case, at which point Judge Wake issued a preliminary injunction blocking the law.  Attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom, which co-authored the legislation with the SBA List, have helped state Solicitor General David Cole defend the law to date.

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.”

For the Obama administration, Assistant Attorney General Joseph Mead claimed Arizona shouldn’t be picking who receives funding with federal Medicare tax money it receives.



Arizona Solicitor General David Cole disagreed and said 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.

Last year the SBA List joined the Center for Arizona Policy, Arizona Right to Life, and other local groups to host “Women Speak Out: Defund Planned Parenthood” grassroots rallies in front of local Planned Parenthood abortion clinics to draw attention to the organization’s abortion-centered business and calling for the passage of HB 2800. Chuck Donovan, President of the Charlotte Lozier Institute, the education and research arm of the SBA List, also testified before the Arizona House Health Committee in favor of the bill in coordination with the Center for Arizona Policy.

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)