News Abortion

Arizona “Don’t Say Abortion!” Bill Will Force Schools To Talk Up Adoption to Teens

Robin Marty

The state legislature argues that if teachers even mention abortion, that is supporting it with taxpayer dollars.

How ridiculous has the “ban” on “taxpayer funding” of abortions become?  In Arizona, a new law would force school teachers to discuss adoption as the only “right” solution when it comes to teen pregnancy.

If they mention abortion, supporters argue, well, that would be taxpayer support of abortion.

Via Arizona Public Media:

SB 1009 would require schools to talk about adoption as the preferred alternative to abortion when the issue comes up in the sexual education curriculum. The Arizona Catholic Conference is among the supporters.

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“It ensures that taxpayers do not subsidize abortion propaganda in schools,” said Ron Johnson, Arizona Catholic Conference executive director. “We’ve seen this type of bill become law in states like Missouri and North Dakota. We believe it’s a good bill.”

Nothing like a government gag rule in the name of religious freedom.

News Family Planning

Lawsuit Challenges Arizona’s Attempt to Defund Planned Parenthood

Nicole Knight Shine

The Republican-backed law specifically targets abortion providers, excluding any facility from Medicaid that fails "to segregate taxpayer dollars from abortions, including the use of taxpayer dollars for any overhead expenses attributable to abortions.”

Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) asked a federal court to block an Arizona law defunding Planned Parenthood, arguing in a legal challenge filed Thursday that the Arizona measure is “illegal.”

The GOP-backed law, signed by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey in May, specifically targets abortion providers, excluding any facility from Medicaid that fails “to segregate taxpayer dollars from abortions, including the use of taxpayer dollars for any overhead expenses attributable to abortions.”

Federal law already bars health-care providers from using Medicaid dollars for abortion care, except in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment.

In an 18-page complaint, the plaintiffs argue that the restriction is impermissible under Medicaid statutes, and they ask for an injunction on the law, which goes into effect August 6. Planned Parenthood said in an emailed statement that the law could slash funding for birth control, cancer screenings, and preventive care, affecting more than 2,500 Medicaid patients in the state.

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The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state Medicaid agency, did not respond to a request for comment.

Jennifer Lee, staff attorney at the ACLU, called the Arizona law “another attempt to intimidate doctors who provide abortion and to punish low-income women in particular,” in a statement announcing the lawsuit. Planned Parenthood operates 11 medical centers in the state, including three in underserved and impoverished communities with high rates of infant mortality, according to the court filing.

At least ten states, including Arizona, have attempted to strip Planned Parenthood of funding—the fallout from a string of deceptive smear videos masterminded by David Daleiden, the head of the anti-choice front group the Center for Medical Progress, who now faces a felony record-tampering charge.

“This case is about the people who rely on us for basic care every day,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in an announcement of the Arizona suit. “We’ll continue fighting in Arizona, and anywhere else there are efforts to block our patients from the care they need.”

The Arizona law represents the state’s second attempt to defund Planned Parenthood. In 2014, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court decision finding a similar defunding measure, HB 2800, violated federal Medicaid law.

In April, the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services sent a letter to all 50 states saying that cutting funding to qualified providers solely because they provide abortion care violates federal law.

Independent analysis suggests gutting Planned Parenthood funding exacts a toll on health care.

2015 report from the Congressional Budget Office indicated that health-care access would suffer under Planned Parenthood funding cuts, with the potential for $650 million in additional Medicaid spending over a decade and thousands of more births.

In Texas, births surged 27 percent among low-income women who were using injectable birth control but lost access to the service when the state cut Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

News Abortion

Arizona Governor: Force Doctors to Provide Outdated Medication Abortion Care

Nicole Knight Shine

The FDA's change to medication abortion guidelines undercuts other laws in Texas, Oklahoma, Ohio, and North Dakota that require physicians to follow the agency's 2000 label recommendation for mifepristone.

Arizona’s Republican governor ignored updated labeling issued this week by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), signing a bill Thursday that will force doctors to follow obsolete medication abortion guidelines.

The Arizona bill, SB 1324, limits medication abortion care to the first seven weeks of pregnancy, requires extra in-person doctor visits, and mandates a higher medication dosage than reinforced by a large body of medical evidenceand now the FDA.

The FDA’s updated guidelines on a pill used to induce abortion support a lower dose, fewer doctor visits, and expanded use to ten weeks of pregnancy. The agency revised the labeling based on data and information submitted by the drug manufacturer Danco.

Gov. Doug Ducey (R) in a statement Thursday night acknowledged the GOP measure’s flaws.

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“At the time that SB 1324 was passed, the FDA had not updated its guidelines in 15 years, and there was no indication that an update was imminent,” Ducey said. “I recognize that given the unexpected actions by the FDA, some changes may need to be made in a later bill, and I stand ready to consider those changes when they reach my desk.”

Sources at the state capitol said that SB 1324’s sponsor, state Sen. Nancy Barto (R-Phoenix), was expected to amend the measure with another bill she is sponsoring, SB 1112. It’s unclear whether the changes would adhere to the new FDA labeling.

Cathi Herrod, president of the anti-choice group known as the Center for Arizona Policy, sent out a mass email on Friday about the FDA labeling, saying that group is “working with lawmakers and exploring all options as to what steps can and should be taken.”

Abortion rights activists were swift to condemn Ducey’s action.

“This bill doubles down on Arizona’s politically motivated crusade to force bad medicine on women,” David Brown, staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in an emailed statement. “A law requiring women to receive twentieth-century medical care in the twenty-first century is mean-spirited and offensive.”

The FDA’s action on Tuesday also undercut laws in Texas, Oklahoma, Ohio, and North Dakota that require physicians to follow the agency’s 2000 label recommendation for mifepristone, known by the brand name Mifeprex. The pill is one of two used to medically induce an abortion. Patients take mifepristone, followed by a later dosage of misoprostol. The original FDA label instructed providers to administer both doses in the office and have a follow-up visit in the office.

Courts have blocked the GOP-pushed medication abortion restrictions in Oklahoma and North Dakota. Arizona lawmakers in 2012 enacted a nearly identical medication-abortion restriction law, which the courts permanently blocked.

Ducey on Thursday also signed Republican-backed bills to outlaw fetal tissue research and bar state employees from donating to Planned Parenthood.

“The governor’s action today, particularly with regard to SB 1324, was disappointing but not unexpected,” Jodi Liggett, vice president of public affairs with Planned Parenthood Arizona, said in a text message to Rewire. “This administration has made it clear that it cares more about satisfying an extremist base than it does about women’s health. That was made crystal clear by the nonsensical action of signing a bill that has been made moot by the FDA’s action.”

Liggett continued, “Undoubtedly there will be more legislation to further tie the hands of Arizona physicians. When politicians practice medicine, it’s women who suffer.”

Arizona Republicans hold an 18-12 state senate majority and a 36-24 edge in the house.