Supreme Court sides with Planned Parenthood, refuses to hear Arizona Attorney General’s appeal of a lower court ruling that blocked 2012 law

 

By Dave Andrusko

US Supreme CourtWhen last we visited Arizona’s law barring the state from contracting with or making a grant to any entity that performs an abortion or maintains an abortion facility, a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel had upheld a trial judge’s decision striking down the law.

On Monday, the United States Supreme Court, without comment, rejected a bid by attorneys for the state and the Alliance Defending Freedom to overturn the three-judge panel’s decision.

In May 2012, Arizona’s ”Whole Woman’s Health Funding Priority Act” was signed into law by Gov. Jan Brewer and immediately challenged by Planned Parenthood of Arizona. And because of the legal challenge, the law has never been implemented.

Brewer described HB 2800 as a measure that “closes loopholes in order to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not used to fund abortions, whether directly or indirectly.” The law provides that neither the state nor any political subdivision of the state “may . . . enter into a contract with or make a grant to” abortion providers for family-planning services. Further, “subject to any applicable requirements of federal law, regulations or guidelines,” the law establishes a priority system for entities that may receive family-planning funding.

U.S. District Court Judge Neil Wake ruled otherwise. “Agreeing with positions taken by Planned Parenthood and federal officials, Wake rejected the state’s argument that federal law lets states use broad parameters to decide whether health care providers are qualified to deliver Medicaid services, such as whether they provide abortions,” the Associated Press reported at the time.

Referring to the Supreme Court’s Monday decision, Howard Fischer (writing for Capitol Media Services) explained that

“In seeking Supreme Court review, Attorney General Tom Horne said states have a constitutional right to decide for themselves who is ‘qualified’ to provide family-planning services. He said that is not limited to the medical ability of staffers.

“Horne also said that the 2012 law ‘reflects a public-policy preference for childbirth over abortion and gives effect to Arizona’s justifiably strong interest in recognizing the inherent difference of abortion from other medical procedures.’

“He would not comment on Monday’s ruling.”

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