State Goes to Appeals Court to Cut Off Funding for Planned Parenthood

Jan 2, 2013

Attorneys for the state and abortion foes are asking a federal appeals court to let it cut off federal and state funding for Planned Parenthood because it also offers abortions.

State and federal laws already bar the use of public funds for abortions that are not medically necessary. But Arizona, as part of its participation in the federal Medicaid program, provides family planning services for needy women, with the federal government paying 90 percent. Last year, lawmakers added a provision to the law saying any organization that also performs abortions cannot get family planning money. Proponents say that ensures public funds do not indirectly subsidize abortions. A trial judge blocked the funding cutoff. Now the Alliance Defending Freedom, on behalf of the state, is asking the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to dissolve that injunction. ADF attorney Steven Aden acknowledged federal law allows any qualified provider to participate. But he said Arizona is entitled to determine who is qualified, federal funds or not.

"The argument that we're making is that exclusion of abortion providers on the basis of the state's determination under public policy not to indirectly fund abortion, is a reasonable state restriction on Medicaid participation, " Aden said.

Trial judge Neil Wake had rejected that interpretation, saying the state can keep out only those who are medically unqualified to perform the service. And Planned Parenthood denies that family planning dollars underwrite abortion costs.