May 7, 2012 — Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) on Friday signed into law a bill (HB 2800) that prohibits state or local governments from providing public funds to any organization that provides abortion care, the AP/USA Today reports (AP/USA Today, 5/5).
The law 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.
Arizona law already forbids the use of public funding for abortion care (Fischer, Arizona Daily Star, 4/5). Brewer said in a statement on Friday that the bill "closes loopholes in order to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not used to fund abortions, whether directly or indirectly" (Wingett Sanchez, Arizona Republic, 5/4). An estimate of how much money is involved was not available (Reuters/New York Times, 5/4).
Potential Legal Challenge
Bryan Howard, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona, said PPAZ is considering a legal challenge.
According to Howard, Arizona "does not actually contract with Planned Parenthood or any healthcare providers." He said birth control is the only government-funded service provided through the program. About 4,000 Medicaid beneficiaries -- or 10% of PPAZ's patients -- will be affected by the law, he added. The organization's other patients in Arizona pay out-of-pocket or have private insurance, he said (Castellanos, Los Angeles Times, 5/5).
Olson said the Arizona law differs from a Texas measure that Planned Parenthood has challenged in court. Nevertheless, he expects that the Arizona law also will be challenged.
Brewer's spokesperson, Matthew Benson, said, "The governor is confident of the constitutionality of this law and believes it will be upheld." (Arizona Daily Star, 5/5).
Repro Health Watch — an exciting new edition of the Women’s Health Policy Report — compiles and distributes media coverage of proposed and enacted state laws and ballot initiatives affecting women's access to comprehensive reproductive health care, as well as litigation in response to those provisions.