In a blow to anti-abortion activists looking to use Planned Parenthood as a political pawn in their crusade against women’s reproductive health rights, a federal judge has overturned an Arizona law signed by Gov. Jan Brewer (R) in May 2012 that prohibits using Medicaid funds for services provided by Planned Parenthood facilities in the state.
Judge Neil Wake ruled that Arizona residents “are entitled to get their services from any qualified medical provider,” and the fact that Planned Parenthood provides some abortion-related services does not disqualify the organization from being a “qualified provider,” as the law claimed it did.
State and federal GOP officials have been tripping over each other to strip Planned Parenthood of its federal funding — even though federal dollars can’t be used to cover abortion services, through Planned Parenthood or any other medical provider. Planned Parenthood is actually simply a health care provider for low-income women in the Medicaid program, providing them with preventative screenings and family planning services.
Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood have already taken a toll on low-income women in states like Texas, where the war against the provider has sharply curtailed the number of doctors and services available to women, and Oklahoma, where women’s health clinics have been forced to close. But federal courts have consistently ruled that efforts to cut off Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood is an overreach, stripping low-income women of essential medical resources.
Wake’s injunction against the Arizona law has already been appealed.