News Law and Policy

Federal Court Blocks Arizona Efforts To De-Fund Planned Parenthood

Jessica Mason Pieklo

A federal court on Friday issued a preliminary injunction preventing the state from stripping Planned Parenthood of funding.

On Friday, a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction and prevented the state of Arizona from ending public funding to Planned Parenthood for general health care services that do not include abortion.

The law, enacted earlier this year, bars all public funding of general health care services provided by abortion clinics and doctors. Planned Parenthood challenged the law immediately and it has not yet been implemented due to the legal challenges.

U.S. District Judge Neil Wake dismissed the claims of anti-choice activists that the law functions to prevent federal subsidies for abortion and held that indirect subsidization of abortion was impossible because Medicaid reimbursements provided Planned Parenthood Arizona for Medicaid-covered services only pay about half the costs. As a result, the court held, “there is no excess funding that could be used to subsidize abortions.”

“Simply put, a state’s determination of whether a provider is qualified to perform Medicaid services must at least be related to Medicaid services,” Wake wrote. “The fact that the plaintiff providers perform legally-protected abortions does not affect their ability to perform family planning services for Medicaid patients.”

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Wake said it’s in the public interest to block implementation because otherwise some 3,000 patients would be denied the opportunity to get care from their chosen health care providers.

Bryan Howard, Planned Parenthood Arizona president and CEO said the ruling is a win for poor women who faced an interruption in care because of the law.

“This is a law all Arizonans should be concerned about,” said Howard “The government has erected barriers that deny citizens the ability to make their own health care decisions. We are grateful the court has put this law on hold.”

The ruling is not a decision on the merits of the law. Instead, it simply prevents it from taking effect pending a full review by the court. A hearing is scheduled for December 6 to plan future proceedings.

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