Federal Judge Blocks Arizona From Defunding Planned Parenthood

A federal judge has blocked Arizona from implementing HB 2800, a measure that would have revoked Medicaid funding for family planning services at any health organization that also provides abortions, effectively defunding the state’s Planned Parenthood affiliates. The ruling represents a victory for Planned Parenthood, who sued to prevent HB 2800 from going into effect after Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ) signed the bill into law in May.

Judge Neil Wake rejected the argument that Arizona can cut off federal funding for family planning simply based on the state’s own determination that abortion providers aren’t qualified for Medicaid eligibility, pointing out that Medicaid recipients have the right to choose between the full range of qualified providers “without government interference.” Planned Parenthood officials told Reuters that they are pleased the judge’s decision will preserve health services for thousands of low-income women in Arizona:

Bryan Howard, the president of Planned Parenthood Arizona, called the ruling “a victory for poor women” in the state. With the ruling, their health care will not be interrupted while the case moves forward, he said.

“Today’s ruling affirms what we have said all along: no woman should ever have to fear being cut off from her doctor’s care because of shortsighted political games,” Howard said in a statement.

Under HB 2800, an estimated 3,000 Medicaid recipients in Arizona who currently receive contraception and other preventative care at their local Planned Parenthood clinic would no longer be eligible for services there. Planned Parenthood officials condemn these type of measures — which Republican-controlled legislatures in Texas and Oklahoma have also pushed through — as politicized attacks on the organization in the ongoing War on Women, especially since abortion services account for just 3 percent of the patient care provided by Planned Parenthood clinics nationwide.

This doesn’t represent the only politicized battle over Planned Parenthood in Arizona, however. Anti-abortion groups are also opposing a proposed sales tax in the state because they worry that some of the funds will go to Planned Parenthood.