Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne asked the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday to uphold an Arizona law that limits the use of taxpayer funds for abortion. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit struck down the law in August.
The Whole Woman’s Healthcare Funding Prioritization Act prohibits taxpayer dollars from funding most abortions and prioritizes family planning funds to health care entities that best provide comprehensive health care to women.
“Taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize the work of abortionists,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Steven H. Aden, who argued before the 9th Circuit in June. “Arizona should be free to enforce its public policy against the taxpayer funding of abortion and in favor of the best health care for women.”
Aden, whom Horne appointed as a special assistant attorney general to assist the state in defending the law, is working together with Arizona Solicitor General Robert Ellman.
Federal law says that physicians whom states have qualified for Medicaid, based on a state legislature’s rational policy decisions, may not be excluded from funding; however, as the petition to the U.S. Supreme Court explains, the 9th Circuit misinterpreted a reference to “qualified” physicians in the “choice criterion” provision of the law to mean that states may not exclude any physicians who simply have “professional competence.”
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“The [9th Circuit] panel’s interpretation of the term ‘qualified’ renders the choice criterion provision pointless and redundant,” the petition filed in Betlach v. Planned Parenthood Arizona states. “If ‘qualification’ is a matter of licensure and competence, then the choice criterion serves no purpose because Arizona’s existing licensure and oversight provisions already limit a Medicaid recipient’s choice to ‘qualified’ providers…. Review by this Court is necessary because the Ninth Circuit’s interpretation, now embraced by two federal circuit courts, strips the States of their prerogative to rationally administer their respective state Medicaid programs as they see fit.”