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Ariz. Senate committee advances bill targeting public funding for abortion providers

An Arizona Senate committee on Tuesday voted 4-3 to approve a bill (HB 2599) that aims to block Planned Parenthood from receiving state or federal Medicaid funding, the Capitol Media Services/Arizona Daily Star reports.

The measure now heads to the full state Senate.

Bill details

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Justin Olson (R), would disqualify any provider that violates one of several laws, ranging from fraud to patient neglect, from participating in the state's Medicaid program. The measure also would disqualify any provider that does not "segregate taxpayer dollars from abortions." According to the Daily Star, the bill's language could necessitate separating out public funding allocated for "everything from doctors to lighting."

State and federal laws already prohibit the use of public funds for abortion care in most circumstances, the Daily Star reports.

Comments

Bryan Howard, president of Planned Parenthood Arizona (PPA), noted that the organization does not use public funds or Medicaid family planning funding to cover abortion care, when such coverage is prohibited under federal law.

While the bill does not specifically name Planned Parenthood, Howard said it "is indeed intended to prevent Planned Parenthood [from] continuing to provide preventative services to low-income women in the state." He noted that the measure, if passed, likely would lead to a legal challenge because it attempts to cut family planning funding from Planned Parenthood on the sole basis that it provides abortion care. A federal court struck down a similar law (HB 2800), also sponsored by Olson, that was enacted in 2012.

State Sen. Olivia Cajero Bedford (D) criticized the new measure. She said, "[S]ince my [conservative] male colleagues are so possessed with abortion, I think they ought to be concerned with providing some legislation that would educate men on how to prevent these unintended ... pregnancies" (Fischer, Capitol Media Services/Arizona Daily Star, 3/15).