The U.S. Supreme Court today let stand a U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruling that struck down an Arizona law protecting taxpayers from being forced to pay for abortions and to fund Planned Parenthood. 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.
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.
Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Steven H. Aden, special assistant attorney general in defense of Arizona’s Whole Woman’s Healthcare Funding Prioritization Act, responded to the decision in an email to LifeNews:
“Taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize the work of abortionists. Arizona should be free to enforce its public interest against the taxpayer funding of abortion and in favor of the best health care for women, which is what this law sought to do. We are disappointed that the Supreme Court did not decide to weigh in on that principle. Arizonans deserve the best policies and laws possible to protect both their money and their health,” Aden said.
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.”
“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.”
In November, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne asked the high court to review the case, Betlach v. Planned Parenthood Arizona. Horne appointed Aden to work together with Arizona Solicitor General Robert Ellman in defense of the law.
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That came after a federal judge struck down the law. 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.”