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Supreme Court kills Arizona law defunding Planned Parenthood

Ben Johnson
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WASHINGTON, D.C., February 24, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Supreme Court this morning effectively killed an Arizona bill that would have denied Planned Parenthood any share of state Medicaid dollars, declining to hear an appeal from the state.

The law would have deemed abortionists not “qualified” to receive state tax dollars intended for family planning services.

Governor Jan Brewer signed the “Whole Woman’s Healthcare Funding Prioritization Act” (H.B. 2800) in May 2012. The Obama administration filed a lawsuit challenging the law that October, arguing that the terms of federal law supersede state law.

U.S. District Judge Neil Wake issued an injunction, eventually striking the law down on February 11, 2013.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, one of the most overturned appeals courts in the nation, unanimously upheld the ban last August.

The Supreme Court this morning refused to intervene, allowing the panel's decision to stand.

Bryan Howard, president of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, was overjoyed, calling the ruling “a victory for Arizona women and their families.”

“Thousands of low-income women rely on Planned Parenthood for breast and cervical cancer screenings, birth control, and other basic health care,” he said.

Planned Parenthood Arizona estimates that it sees 3,000 Medicaid patients and receives $350,000 a year from the state's Medicaid system, Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System.

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“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,” Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Steven Aden said in a press release. “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 had been appointed to work with Arizona Solicitor General Robert Ellman on the case, Betlach v. Planned Parenthood Arizona, by state Attorney General Tom Horne.

Legislators have said they may rewrite the statute in a way they hope will pass legal scrutiny.

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