February 25, 2014 — The Supreme Court on Monday declined without comment Arizona's appeal of an overturned state law (HB 2800) that barred organizations that provide abortions from offering other services through the state's Medicaid program, the Arizona Daily Star reports (Fischer, Arizona Daily Star, 2/24).
Although Arizona's Medicaid program does not cover abortions except in cases of rape, incest or medical necessity, the law blocked Medicaid beneficiaries from receiving family planning services or other care from providers that also offer abortions.
In August, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's permanent injunction against the law. The panel agreed with the lower court that the law violates federal rules that give patients the right to choose qualified doctors and clinics.
In November, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne (R) asked the Supreme Court to review the federal appeals court's ruling (Women's Health Policy Report, 11/22/13).
Since 2011, eight federal appeals courts have struck down state laws aimed at blocking Planned Parenthood from providing preventive services to women, according to the group. The Supreme Court in May declined to hear a similar appeal from Indiana.
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona President Bryan Howard said the ruling "is a victory for Arizona women and their families." He said, "Thousands of low-income women rely on Planned Parenthood for breast and cervical cancer screenings, birth control and other basic health care," adding, "Politics should never interfere with a woman's access to vital services" (Shabad, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 2/24).
Meanwhile, Steven Aden -- senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, the legal group that argued the state's case -- said the state "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."
Aden added, "We are disappointed that the Supreme Court did not decide to weigh in on that principle" (AP/Washington Times, 2/24).