Planned Parenthood Files Lawsuit Over Ariz. Funding Ban

July 17, 2012 — Planned Parenthood Arizona on Monday filed a federal lawsuit that seeks to block an Arizona law barring public family planning funding to organizations that also provide abortion services, Reuters reports (MacLaggan, Reuters, 7/17).

The law (HB 2800), signed by Gov. Jan Brewer (R) in May, establishes a system for distributing public funds for family planning, with priority going to government-run facilities, followed by hospitals, rural health clinics and private physicians. The bill's sponsor, Rep. Justin Olson (R), has said the legislation is meant to target Planned Parenthood (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/7).

The suit asks a judge to stop the law from taking effect on Aug. 2 and to eventually strike it down. Attorneys representing PPAZ said federal Medicaid laws allow beneficiaries to receive service "from the qualified, willing provider of their choice."

They argue that the law illegally denies money from the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System to any organization providing abortions and that it would interfere with PPAZ's contracts with other groups that receive AHCCCS funding (Fischer, Arizona Daily Star, 7/17).

Bryan Howard, president and CEO of PPAZ, said that if the law takes effect, it could mean nearly 3,000 Medicaid beneficiaries who receive birth control and other preventive services through the organization would no longer be eligible.

The American Civil Liberties Union is assisting PPAZ in the suit (Reuters, 7/17). The plaintiffs also include three women who want to continue to get services at PPAZ.

Other Cases

Olson acknowledged that a judge struck down a similar measure in Texas but said there are key differences between that provision and the Arizona law (Arizona Daily Star, 7/17).

Thirteen states have taken similar steps to block family planning funding to Planned Parenthood in the past two years, and the organization has won injunctions in other states, including in Indiana, Kansas and North Carolina.

Monday's filing follows a lawsuit last week challenging another Arizona law that bans abortion starting at 20 weeks after a woman's last period (Reuters, 7/17).