Appeals Court Expresses Skepticism Over Ariz. Law Barring Planned Parenthood Funding

June 14, 2013 — Two federal appeals court judges on Wednesday were skeptical of a challenge to a February ruling that struck down an Arizona law (HB 2800) barring the distribution of family planning funds to organizations that provide abortions, the Seymour Tribune reports (Zaveri, Seymour Tribune , 6/12).

In the ruling, U.S. District Judge Neil Wake explained that he struck down the law because it "violates the freedom of choice provision of the [federal] Medicaid Act precisely because every Medicaid beneficiary has the right to select any qualified health care provider" (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/12).

During the appeal hearing, Steven Aden -- an attorney with the Alliance Defending Freedom -- argued that the state has broad authority to "impose reasonable qualifications" on which organizations are eligible under the Medicaid statute because the statute does not further define the term "qualified."

However, 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judges Marsha Berzon and Jay Bybee criticized Aden's argument, with Bybee reasoning that such authority would allow the state to impose a broad range of restrictions on medical providers.

Meanwhile, Alice Clapman -- attorney for the suit's original plaintiffs, Planned Parenthood and a physician -- maintained that her clients are qualified under the Medicaid act because they are competent medical providers.

The appeals court did not immediately issue a ruling (Seymour Tribune, 6/12).