Arizona lawmakers have been working hard to try to defund the abortion giant Planned Parenthood, but they have faced numerous roadblocks along the way.
This week, state attorneys agreed not to enforce a new state law that would stop taxpayer funds from going to Planned Parenthood in exchange for the abortion giant dropping its lawsuit against the law, the Arizona Daily Star reports.
State officials admitted that the law, which would allow the state to cut off Medicaid funding to abortion groups that fail to segregate taxpayer money from funds used for abortions, is not ready to be implemented because specific rules regarding enforcement are not in place, according to the report.
The abortion group agreed to drop its lawsuit while state officials work on the rules. It has the option to file another lawsuit later if it does not like the rules.
“In no way is this even a temporary defeat,” Josh Kredit from the Center for Arizona Policy, a pro-life organization, told the news outlet.
Here’s more from the report:
The stipulation now moves the battle from the courtroom to the process where AHCCCS has to craft actual rules to implement the law. That process legally requires public hearings and public input.
“We’ll be watching it and weighing in,” said Kredit. The bottom line, he said, is ensuring that taxpayer dollars are not being used, directly or indirectly, for elective abortions.
Where it gets trickier is determining in the rules how to parse out and account for various costs and determine whether they are attributable to abortions.
“To the extent that there are things that are feasible, that would be doable, I think those things need to be looked at,” Kredit said. But he acknowledged that, at some point, not every dollar spent can be put into one category or another.
Planned Parenthood Arizona spokeswoman Jodi Liggett celebrated the move as a victory, but she balked at the idea of Planned Parenthood having to account for how it spends every tax dollar it receives.
“The premise is pretty weird,” she told the newspaper. “How do you account for every molecule of overhead?”
Before the bill passed, sponsor Rep. Justin Olson, R-Mesa said the legislation was designed to ensure that abortion groups are obeying current laws. Right now, the Hyde Amendment prohibits Medicaid funding from paying for abortions. Groups like Planned Parenthood that receive the taxpayer money are not supposed to use the funds for its abortion practices.
“I think that it is appropriate that there is an enforcement mechanism to ensure that that law is not being violated, that it is being obeyed,” Olson said at a Feb. 24 hearing on the legislation. “This bill does not target anybody. If you’re not following the law, you’re not going to be a qualified provider.”
The Arizona Planned Parenthood affiliate previously challenged and won a lawsuit blocking an earlier attempt by lawmakers to defund it. This compromise on the new law could save the state from being forced to pay the abortion group’s attorneys’ fees if it loses again in court.
In February, Arizona lawmakers also passed a measure, Arizona Senate Bill 1485, to ban abortion groups from the state employee charitable giving program. The ban is a continuation of a move last year by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to kick out Planned Parenthood from the program. In 2014, the abortion business’s Arizona affiliate received about $7,250 from state employees through the program, according to news reports.